Another Week Without Pickers, Crab Houses Losing Hope - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Another Week Without Pickers, Crab Houses Losing Hope

Posted: Jun 11, 2018 6:21 PM Updated:

HOOPER'S ISLAND, Md.- After months of waiting, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security says the 15,000 H2-B worker visas it promised, have been drawn.

Hooper's Island crab houses are waiting to see if they will get any of the visas, as they struggle to stay afloat.

Without crabs, workers inside Russell Hall Seafood, for example, kept busy doing what they could do like preparing bait.

Owner Harry Phillips says he's excited to hear more visas are on the way but less so knowing they come through a lottery.

"I just got a bad feeling about the lottery," Phillips said. "It's a gamble but you can't gamble about this."

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security released more information on its website, stating the lottery had been completed last week and would begin releasing those visas starting Monday. It's a move not making Phillips feel much better about the fate of his business as well as other businesses, like the Hooper's Island General Store just down the street.

Owner Katie Doll says empty tables are more of a common sight in her store now. She says the lack of workers means she sells less from her kitchen.

"Everybody's affected," Doll said. "Our larger businesses that don't have trucks on the road are not getting lunch for 20, 40 people. They're getting lunch for two."

Doll adds crab meat sandwiches currently sell for about $10 - quite a difference from the same time last year when the sandwich sold for $6.

Back at Russell Hall Seafood, the picking tables are, like the general store, empty. Phillips says, if help doesn't come soon, he'll have to start taking matters into his own hands.

"The girls are in Mexico and there's crabs in Mexico...this place may have to go to Mexico!" Phillips said.


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