The community of False Pass has been occupied by full-time residents since the early 1900s. False Pass is an early English name for the Isanotski Strait. The strait was called False Pass by early American sailing ship captains because it was thought to be impassable. Commercial salmon fishing and fishing services drive the local economy and it is an important refueling stop for Bristol Bay and Bering Sea fishing fleets. The community has had a long-standing history with fish processing dating back to 1917 with Peter Pan Seafoods known then as P.E. Harris Co. Peter Pan had destructive fires in 1958 and 1981. After the last fire, the store and shore buildings remained, but processing was no longer viable. The facility shifted focus away from processing to supporting the fishing fleet.
APICDA started to rebuild the processing and fishing industry in False Pass — the heart of Area M — by securing a processing barge called The Dipper in the late 1990s. The Dipper was moored at the city dock prior to opening Bering Pacific Seafoods (BPS), a shoreside seafood processing facility.
In 2014, APICDA opened a fuel facility designed to meet the need for local heating and road vehicles, BPS plant operations, the City of False Pass and the fishing fleet after Peter Pan closed their fuel farm. During the 2016 and 2017 Area M salmon seasons the operations staff, fishermen and community successfully turned BPS from a company suffering financial losses to cash positive, surpassing all revenue goals. In fact, the turnaround in False Pass was so successful Trident Seafoods, the largest vertically-integrated seafood company in North America, became the majority investor in the facility in 2018. As a multi-site operator in the Aleutian-Pribilof region, they will help APICDA maximize the volume of product, focus on providing year-round employment and contribute greater tax revenue to the City of False Pass.
The story of BPS, now known as False Pass Seafoods, is a notable example of positive community development that started from a processing barge to securing a major company who has a long history of adding value to Alaska’s fishery resources. Trident has been in Alaska for forty years supporting the state’s fishermen and its fishing-dependent communities. Their investment offers APICDA the opportunity to focus greater resources to develop needed fishing industry infrastructure in our other Community Development Quota (CDQ) communities of Nelson Lagoon, Atka and St. George as we did in False Pass.
Other APICDA investments in False Pass include a gear storage warehouse, the BPS dock, the city dock, Fishermen’s Association grants and fuel subsidies.