No Visas, No Workers, No Business for Maryland's Crab Industry - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

No Visas, No Workers, No Business for Maryland's Crab Industry

Posted: Apr 03, 2018 6:22 PM Updated:

HOOPER'S ISLAND, Md. - Silver tables, usually used by workers to pick crabs, inside Russel Hall Seafood on Hooper's Island were laying empty on Wednesday.

Russell Hall Seafood owner Harry Phillips says his business asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for 50 seasonal workers from Mexico on what's called H2-B worker visas to pick crabs.

"What are we going to do? I mean if we don't have workers, we'll shut down," Phillips said.

Out of 81,000 applications nationwide, a record number, the government turned to a lottery system, reaching the 66,000 visa cap.

Russel Hall Seafood wasn't picked in the lottery as well as places like Old Salty's, A E Phillips and Lindy's Seafood.

Other businesses tied to Maryland's crab market, including seafood wholesalers like Ed Goodwin, say they're also in a pinch.

"It's a big part of our business...probably 25 percent of our business is crab meat," Goodwin said.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has looked into releasing more visas, saying in a statement: "We are currently looking at last year's implementation of the H-2B plus-up to determine how best to proceed this fiscal year."

But time is running out. Phillips says they've already lost an eighth of their business without the workers being here.

With the lack of workers, businesses outside of the crab industry could hurt too. Phillips says anything from packing and shipping companies to ice companies will feel the effect.

Over time, Phillips adds he'll be forced to sell un-picked crabs, driving the supply of them up and the price for them down.

Larry Palley, a waterman who supplies bait to crabbers, worries he'll feel the effect too - ultimately losing his job.

"In Dorchester County, you don't got much opportunity to work. What else do you do around here? We haven't got no businesses around here that we could just go do something else. This is a way of life and heritage," Palley said.

Phillips says a number of the H2-B visas were given to businesses in the South, following natural disasters needing workers for cleanup.

  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • School Choice Process Starts in Delaware

    School Choice Process Starts in Delaware

    Thursday, November 21 2019 4:48 PM EST2019-11-21 21:48:00 GMT
    Thursday, November 21 2019 4:48 PM EST2019-11-21 21:48:00 GMT
    Parents in the first state have already taken advantage of the school choice program to start applying to their children's school for next fall.More
    Parents in the first state have already taken advantage of the school choice program to start applying to their children's school for next fall.More
  • Affidavit Alleges Milton-Area Woman Abused Own Children Over Months

    Affidavit Alleges Milton-Area Woman Abused Own Children Over Months

    Thursday, November 21 2019 7:41 PM EST2019-11-22 00:41:29 GMT
    Thursday, November 21 2019 10:05 PM EST2019-11-22 03:05:39 GMT
    Christina Morris. (Delaware State Police)Christina Morris. (Delaware State Police)
    Christina Morris. (Delaware State Police)Christina Morris. (Delaware State Police)
    GEORGETOWN, Del. --- Two children of a Milton-area woman arrested last week on multiple charges of child abuse told state troopers their mother had subjected either of them to months of abuse involving a baseball bat, a high heel shoe, and even boiling waMore
    GEORGETOWN, Del. --- Two children of a Milton-area woman arrested last week on multiple charges of child abuse told state troopers their mother had subjected either of them to months of abuse involving a baseball bat, a high heel shoe, and even boiling waMore
  • Delaware State University Cuts Ribbon On A New Dorm With A Historic Name

    Delaware State University Cuts Ribbon On A New Dorm With A Historic Name

    Thursday, November 21 2019 7:06 PM EST2019-11-22 00:06:25 GMT
    Thursday, November 21 2019 7:06 PM EST2019-11-22 00:06:25 GMT
    Delaware State University is rapidly growing and a new state of the art dorm is now open to help with that. School officials and sponsors cut the ribbon on Thursday morning for a new home for over 600 students.More
    Delaware State University is rapidly growing and a new state of the art dorm is now open to help with that. School officials and sponsors cut the ribbon on Thursday morning for a new home for over 600 students. More
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Ocean City's Pet Policy Challenged by Hotel Owners

    Hotel Owners Challenge Ocean City's Pet Policy

    Wednesday, November 20 2019 11:42 PM EST2019-11-21 04:42:04 GMT
    Thursday, November 21 2019 7:15 AM EST2019-11-21 12:15:52 GMT
    Ocean City hotel owners are challenging the resort town's pet policy.More
    Ocean City hotel owners are challenging the resort town's pet policy.More
  • Missouri Jail Escapee Captured in Makeshift Hut in Delaware

    Missouri Jail Escapee Captured in Makeshift Hut in Delaware

    Thursday, November 21 2019 11:13 AM EST2019-11-21 16:13:28 GMT
    Thursday, November 21 2019 11:13 AM EST2019-11-21 16:13:28 GMT
    U.S. Marshals say Drake Kately was found hiding in this makeshift hut he made in New Castle County, Del. (Photo: US. Marshals Service)U.S. Marshals say Drake Kately was found hiding in this makeshift hut he made in New Castle County, Del. (Photo: US. Marshals Service)
    U.S. Marshals say Drake Kately was found hiding in this makeshift hut he made in New Castle County, Del. (Photo: US. Marshals Service)U.S. Marshals say Drake Kately was found hiding in this makeshift hut he made in New Castle County, Del. (Photo: US. Marshals Service)
    PRINCETON, Mo. (AP/WBOC)- Authorities say an inmate who escaped twice from a Missouri jail was captured more than 1,000 miles away in Delaware where he was living in a makeshift hut in a wooded area. The U.S. Marshals Service says in a news release that 2More
    PRINCETON, Mo. (AP/WBOC)- Authorities say an inmate who escaped twice from a Missouri jail was captured more than 1,000 miles away in Delaware where he was living in a makeshift hut in a wooded area. The U.S. Marshals Service says in a news release that 2More
  • GM Recalls 640K Pickups; Seat Belts Can Cause Carpet Fires

    GM Recalls 640K Pickups; Seat Belts Can Cause Carpet Fires

    Thursday, November 21 2019 9:33 AM EST2019-11-21 14:33:52 GMT
    Thursday, November 21 2019 9:38 AM EST2019-11-21 14:38:22 GMT
    (Photo: MGN Online)(Photo: MGN Online)
    (Photo: MGN Online)(Photo: MGN Online)
    General Motors is recalling over 640,000 pickup trucks worldwide because hot gas from a high-tech seat belt can set the carpeting on fire.More
    General Motors is recalling over 640,000 pickup trucks worldwide because hot gas from a high-tech seat belt can set the carpeting on fire.           More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2019 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices