False Pass, Isanotski Strait


False Pass, Isanotski Strait

by | Oct 1, 2018

False Pass is a small community on the east coast of Unimak Island that is separated from the Alaska Peninsula mainland by Isanotski Strait.

Isanotski Strait connects the northern Gulf of Alaska with the Bering Sea. The name comes from the Aleut language, “Isanaq” meaning gap or hole which was rendered as Isanotski on Russian charts. The southern entrance of the strait is at Ikatan Bay. The northern entrance on the Bering Sea is at Bechevin Bay, which has extensive shoals with strong tidal currents affected by northerly or southerly winds. Just outside this outlet, at a distance of between 1–2 miles (1.6–3.2 km), is a submerged shoal or bar with breakers that extends from the northeast point of Unimak Island in a northeasterly direction for 5–6 miles (8.0–9.7 km) parallel with the coast. Transiting in either direction requires extreme caution because the bars shift frequently. The strait was called “False Pass” because it was thought to be impassable at the northern end where it shoals.

The community of False Pass developed around a salmon cannery built in 1917 by P.E. Harris Co., later known as Peter Pan Seafoods. Bering Pacific Seafoods opened a shoreside seafood processing facility in 2008. Today commercial fishing for salmon, cod, halibut, and crab continues to be the core of the community’s lifestyle and economy. The Alaska Marine Highway provides ferry service from Homer to False Pass every other week from May through September. It takes two and a half days to travel from Homer. Read more here and here. Explore more of False Pass and Isanotski Strait here:

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