Unalaska (Aleut: Iluulux) is a city in the Aleutians West Census Area of the Unorganized Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska. Unalaska is located on Unalaska Island and neighboring Amaknak Island in the Aleutian Islands off of mainland Alaska.
According to 2005 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 4,347. Almost all of the community's port facilities are on Amaknak Island, better known as Dutch Harbor or just "Dutch". It is the largest fisheries port in the US by volume caught. It includes Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base and Fort Mears, U.S. Army, a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
Dutch Harbor lies within the city limits of Unalaska and is connected to Unalaska by a bridge. Amaknak Island is home to almost 59 percent of the city's population, although it has less than 3 percent of its land area.
The Aleut or Unangan have lived on Unalaska Island for thousands of years. The Russian fur trade reached Unalaska when Stepan Glotov and his crew arrived on August 1, 1759. The Unangan people, who were the first to inhabit the island of Unalaska, named it “Ounalashka” meaning ‘Near the Peninsula’. The name Unalaska is probably an English variation of this name. The regional native corporation has adopted this moniker, and is known as the Ounalashka Corporation. Dutch Harbor was so named by the Russians because they believed that a Dutch vessel was the first European ship to enter the harbor.
The port of Unalaska/Dutch Harbor is the main port and field base for the storied Bering Sea king crab fishery. The Dutch Harbor crabbing fleet is featured in the television show Deadliest Catch, a documentary style show on the Discovery Channel, and Dutch Harbor's facilities and local pub are featured prominently in numerous episodes.
Dutch Harbor has also been the largest fisheries port in the United States, in terms of volume of seafood caught, for nearly every year since 1981. Until 2000, it also ranked first in terms of the dollar value of its catch; since 2000, however, the port of New Bedford, Massachusetts, has outranked Dutch Harbor in that category.
A pilot project in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, Alaska, is producing fish oil biodiesel from the local fish processing industry in conjunction with the University of Alaska Fairbanks. It is rarely economical to ship the fish oil elsewhere and Alaskan communities are heavily dependent on diesel power generation. The local factories process 3.5 million tons of fish oil annually.
NOTE: For more on Dutch Harbor click the link for Unalaska on the Southwest Alaska page.
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