CalCOFI was established in 1949 to guide research efforts focused on the causes of the massive failure of the Pacific sardine fishery off California and Mexico. The CalCOFI consortium is composed of the California Department of Fish and Game, the Coastal Fisheries Resources Division (now the Fisheries Resources Division) of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center (National Marine Fisheries Service), and the Marine Life Research Group of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (University of California, San Diego).
The central theme of CalCOFI since its founding in 1949 has been to conduct cooperative biological-oceanographic surveys that measure the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the California Current region. CalCOFI has completed 300 survey cruises and the >50,000 plankton tows taken over the past 48+ years have yielded the most complete and extensive ichthyoplankton and oceanographic time series in the world.
The CalCOFI time series is the longest (1951 to the present) and most complete (>50,000 stations) time series of oceanographic and ichthyoplankton data in the world. It includes larval abundance data on over 250 species of fishes along with larval length frequency data and egg abundance data on key commercial species. Also, it includes oceanographic and plankton volume data on the 50,000 stations occupied since 1951. The data base is used extensively to provide management information on the important fisheries of the region.
In May 1997, the CalCOFI data base was identified as a national science treasure by a peer review panel composed of the following distinguished scientists: Dr. William Fox (chair), Dr. Pablo Arenas Fuentes, Mr. Robert Fletcher, Mr. Rick Klingbeil, Mr. Rod McInnis, Dr. Mike Reeve, Mr. Jim Slawson, Dr. Gary Stauffer, and Mr. Dan Ware. Limited sets of data from the time series are available on the world wide web: SIO CalCOFI Data Sources.