Maryland Crab Industry Says Labor Shortage Looms Again

Ask Jack Brooks, president of the Chesapeake Bay Seafood Industries Association, how the Maryland crab-picking season ahead looks right now, and he simply said, “Ugly.”

The problem has nothing to do with the supply of crabs expected to be caught and processed in the crab houses of the Chesapeake Bay. The problem is labor.

Brooks said while other industries are facing tight labor markets due to the continuing fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the issue facing the state’s seafood industry is rooted in the nation’s visa lottery system.

Every year, a total of 66,000 H-2B temporary work visas are up for grabs in a nationwide lottery.

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