VIDEO: Crab Crisis: Chesapeake Crab Houses Facing Worker Shortage

Author:
Publish date:
Guest workers from Mexico have been teh backbone of teh crab-picking business in Chesapeake Country since teh 1980s. 

Guest workers from Mexico have been teh backbone of teh crab-picking business in Chesapeake Country since teh 1980s. 

There are few things more quintessentially Chesapeake Bay than the blue crab. Prized for its succulent, sweet meat, millions of the ornery crustaceans end up in seafood houses and supermarkets each summer as picked meat that costs upwards of $45 a pound.

Since the crabs are protected by hard, weaponized exoskeletons, getting at the tasty meat inside is tedious and challenging work. Before the 1980s, crab processing plants could rely on the local workforce to get the job done. Today, few Americans are willing to do the job. Instead, Mexican workers on temporary visas do much of the work. They are permitted to work for the crab season before returning to their home country in late fall.

This year is different. Instead of getting their H-2B worker visas on a first-come-first-served basis, crab processing plants were granted visas on a lottery basis. The policy change caused a 40 percent reduction in visas, which left some crab processing plants out in the cold. This video has more.

Some crab houses remain shuttered awaiting new workers, while others eventually received their H-2B workers. “I don’t know what we would do without them,” says G.W. Hall Seafood co-owner Robin Hall. 

Related

crab0803

VIDEO: Crab picking 101

Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay are synonymous with blue crabs, a tasty crustacean with a bad attitude. Unfortunately, their meat is cleverly tucked away under an armored shell. Watch a crab-picking pro with 65 years of experience show how to quickly get at the good stuff.

cleanup0807

VIDEO: Cleaning house

Despite facing immense skepticism, 23-year-old Boyan Slat plans on ridding the earth’s oceans of discarded plastics. He is preparing to demonstrate his innovative Ocean Cleanup system in the Pacific Ocean by the end of the year.

catboats0724

VIDEO: The loveable catboat

Those who appreciate catboats – with their beamy, rounded hulls, un-stayed masts, gaff rigs and ultra-long booms – find that these traditional sailboats are hard to beat, when it comes to practical design and pleasurable sailing.

SEBC18cb_22326

An Energizing Challenge

Now in its fifth year, the Solar & Energy Boat Challenge is hosted by the Yacht Club de Monaco to stimulate the use of renewable and clean energy technologies in boats. Watch as a fleet of high-tech electric boats take to the Mediterranean Sea to battle it out.

IMG_6027

VIDEO: The Bay’s Tastiest Critter

Crab season opened earlier this month on Chesapeake Bay, and while recreational crabbers won’t hit the water for at least another month, commercial watermen are already busy rigging up and working their crab pots. This video shows how a professional waterman harvests these cantankerous but delicious crustaceans. WATCH

_MG_9907

VIDEO: Flipping Out

One of the most momentous events in a cold-molded sportfish boat’s life is when the builder flips the hull from upside-down to right-side-up. Watch as a crane makes easy work of turning over a 63-foot Paul Mann Custom Boats sportfish hull.