Frank Gargas, Sr. | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Frank Gargas, Sr.

Frank Gargas, Sr.
Location of Interview
Interviewer
Date of Interview
11-22-2012
Biographical Sketch

Captain Frank Gargas, Sr., and his two sons, Frank Jr. and Steve, reflect on their experience as a fishing family. Frank Sr. relays a time when the family was with him on the tuna boat and they encountered rough weather from Hurricane Camille (1969). Steve talks about his mother and what she faced as a wife of a fisherman, having her husband at sea much of the time. Frank Jr. reflects on what drew him to become a fisherman.

Captain Frank Gargas is recognized by many in the tuna industry as one of the most influential and pioneering tuna fishermen in the world. He was instrumental in developing the African and Western Pacific tuna fishing grounds and brought back the first full loads of purse seine caught tuna to U.S. based canneries from these productive fishing grounds. Captain Gargas’ illustrious tuna fishing career spanned over 47 years. Frank’s two sons, Steve and Frank Jr., fished with him and are recognized as outstanding fishermen in their own right, with Steve serving as helicopter pilot during the pioneering years and Frank Jr. rising to the ranks of fishing captain. Frank and his sons pay tribute to the role of Mrs. Gargas as the glue that kept them together through the trials and tribulations of their tuna fishing careers.

In the early 1900's, the West Coast tuna industry was born in the small coastal California town of San Pedro, near Los Angeles. Fishing and canning businesses soon expanded to nearby Terminal Island developing into a multi-million dollar industry. At the heart of it all was a thriving immigrant community. Generations of immigrants primarily from Japan, Croatia, and Italy harvested tuna, supported the bustling fish markets, and worked in the canneries. They explored new fishing grounds and developed novel fishing and preservation methods that influenced the global tuna industry today. Though the large tuna fleet and canneries are now gone from the area, many of those who were involved still reside there. The interviews in this collection were conducted as part of an effort to create a short film about this history. To find out more and view additional footage, visit: http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/migratory_species/voices_from_the _fisheries.html


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