Maryland Crab Season Begins, No Crab Pickers in Sight - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland Crab Season Begins, No Crab Pickers in Sight

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HOOPERS ISLAND, Md.-  It's many Marylanders' favorite time of year.  Crab season is now underway.  There are some encouraging signs this year for our fishery, based on the crab catch from surrounding states, and based off what watermen saw this winter.

"Everyone that was dredging for oysters, power dredging and patent tonging, were seeing crabs and they didn't see a whole lot of dead.  They were moving around and pretty lively," said Josh Parker, owner of TL Morris Seafood in Trappe.

Many seafood retailers buy crabs from out of state, on top of local Maryland crabs.  There is a big supply of crabs from Virginia in particular, and that's affecting prices.

"It drops the prices, drops the prices down.  It's hard to move things like that," said Parker.

Although prices are also low for consumers, demand is low as well.  The fact that there are no crab pickers yet is another problem.

"We should be ready to start picking today, but we get tied up every year with the Department of Labor with visas.  We can't get our paperwork in.  They keep holding us up, putting us behind," said Teresa Flowers at Russel Hall Seafood on Hoopers Island.

It's a common problem now. Every year, picking houses struggle to get their workers due to holdups in Washington DC.

"Nobody to my knowledge has any pickers.  That holds up the crab process.  It lowers the price for the crabbers, because they have nowhere to go with them," said Flowers.

Picking houses are expected to start receiving their workers by late April.

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