Photographer and writer Abner Kingman spends the day with a crew on the Merva W
– August 9, 2010
1 of5Abner Kingman
Anchovy Fishing Off the California Coast
FV Merva W searches for schools of anchovies in the San Francisco Bay, launching from Fisherman’s Wharf. Each week during the April-to-October season, the crew brings in about 3,200 pounds of the fish, which are sold as live bait for the sportfishing of California halibut, striped bass, and rockfish.
2 of5Abner Kingman
Swimming in Schools
The northern anchovy swims in schools near the water’s surface and averages 5 to 7 inches long. Its life span is generally just four years. About half of the total stock would die each year of natural causes even if no fishing occurred.
More Videos From Sunset
3 of5Abner Kingman
The Right Net
The crew uses a purse seine to catch the anchovies. One of these nets costs $50,000 to $60,000.
4 of5Abner Kingman
A Fisherman’s Forte
A successful fisherman must be a navigator, a plumber, an electrician, a mechanic, and an expert fish finder, and must possess endurance and strength.
5 of5Abner Kingman
Ready to Sell After a Long Day’s Work
At the end of the day, the fish are moved from the hold to a pen. Anchovies are sold for about $50 per scoop (about 6 pounds). When not fishing for anchovies, the crew members of Merva W also catch squid, sardines, and Dungeness crabs.