Still No Crab Pickers, Watermen from Other Counties Worry - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Still No Crab Pickers, Watermen from Other Counties Worry

Posted: May 14, 2018 6:01 PM Updated:

CAMBRIDGE, Md. - As the shiny, silver tables inside places like Russell Hall Seafood in Hoopers Island on Dorchester County lay waiting, so do watermen in other Eastern Shore of Maryland counties - like Bunky Chance of Talbot County.

"It's not upon us yet, but if something doesn't break loose, we're going to all be highly impacted," Chance said.

After a record number of H2-B worker visa applications filed this year, the US Department of Homeland Security turned to a lottery system, leaving many Hoopers Island crab houses empty.

Chance says the impact of no crab pickers this season will soon reach north and the rest of Maryland. Chance says it will impact not just watermen, but consumers too.

"It's a very delicate balance that can be thrown out of kilter," Chance said.

Without crab pickers, Chance says smaller, lighter crabs will soon flood the market, mixing in with the larger, marketable crabs. In turn, making it cheaper to buy crabs but also less bang for the buck.

"They are legal crabs, it's just the quality is not quite as good," Chance said.

Like the watermen, Dorchester County Councilman, Tom Bradshaw says, with their hands tied at the local and federal levels, they're waiting too.

"Most of the pickers would be here by now. They should've been here about two weeks ago," Bradshaw said. "We as a council can't do nothing about it except stay in constant contact with our federal leaders."

Even then, Bradshaw says the 15,000 more visas expected to be released this month won't solve the entirety of the problem.

Chance says the situation is bad and could get worse as the clock continues to tick by.

"It's potentially very bad," Chance said.

WBOC reached out to the offices of Congressman Andy Harris, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, and Sen. Ben Cardin. All three say they're still working on a date to getting the additional 15,000 visas released this month.

 

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