“We send our children to school, we send them to college,” he said. “You don’t go to high school, elementary school or community college to fish and become an Aquarius. You’re not raising your children to pick crabs. ”Seasonal workers, he said, have traditionally filled a critical labor shortage.
Heather Mizeur, a Democrat running for Congress from a district on the east coast of Maryland, said the Biden administration could help address the labor shortage by approving more temporary visas. “The fishing industry out here on the coast desperately needs reliable workers to process the crabs that our mermen harvest,” Ms Mizeur said in an email.
While crabs in upper Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore are more fortunate with their supplies this year, Brown said the Potomac River fishery hasn’t produced much crab. Blue catfish have become an invasive species that feed on crabs in the Chesapeake Bay.
“It really seems like the perfect storm,” said Mr. Mills of the True Chesapeake Oyster Company.
In Baltimore, restaurateur John Minadakis said that during the summer the smell of steamed crab usually fills the air and that the price hike prevents restaurants from coming back.
“It hurts us at a terrible time,” he said. “Summer is crab season in Baltimore. There’s nothing quite like sitting outside with your friends cracking crabs and drinking local beers. It’s a pastime in Maryland. “
Mr Minadakis, an owner of Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, said he needed to raise the price of his crab cakes and lower the price of drinks to offset the increased cost for his working class customers who buy them together.
“The only option that never crossed my mind is to change the recipe because my father came up with the recipe 47 years ago,” he said. “When you think of Jimmy’s, you think of crab cakes.”