The Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association plans to invest millions of dollars into turning its processing facilities at False Pass and Atka into year round operations.
The community development quota group’s chief executive officer, Larry Cotter, made the announcement Feb. 17 during the annual Anchorage summit of the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference.
Cotter said that at False Pass APICDA had faced a struggle with Bering Pacific Seafoods, losing some $1 million a year, and at one point shut down its operations. Now APICDA plans to invest $8 million this year, plus an additional $2 million over the next two years, to expand Bering Pacific Seafoods facilities at False Pass, including the purchase of lots from the local Alaska Native corporation to build housing. Plant managers, engineers and other staff for the facility will be full time residents. “We are going to encourage families to move to False Pass with children so that we can keep the school going and hopefully they re going to work at our facility, earning meaningful wages and benefits,” Cotter said. “We think that is how to define for ourselves what we want Alaska communities to look like.”
State of Alaska data shows False Pass, on the Alaska Peninsula, currently has a year round population of 28 people, while Atka boasts a population of 58 residents.
There is concern in both communities of schools closing if the population gets too small.
At Atka, in the Aleutian chain, APICDA plans expansion of Atka Pride Seafoods, again with the goal of bringing back families to that community. Atka Price, formed in 1994 by APICDA and the Atka Fishermen’s Association, has been operating in the black for about seven to 10 years, Cotter said.
“Every penny has stayed in the company, or has been paid out to local fishermen and plant workers,” he said.