Local Seafood Industry Still Seeing Worker Shortages

The Chesapeake Bay area seafood industry is still concerned over worker shortages for the upcoming season that begins April 1. The industry says the current H-2B visa system is damaging their businesses and could lead to closures.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, in January, Governor Hogan sent a letter to the Trump Administration requesting more visas in response to labor shortages, estimating that without more visas there could be permanent damage to the $355 million Maryland industry. After no action from the federal government, industry leaders gathered on Monday to discuss the importance of H-2B visas to their businesses and communities.

From coverage in the Baltimore Sun:

Maryland politicians and industry leaders are pleading for Trump to double the number of seasonal workers allowed under what is known as the H-2B program this year, and to find a permanent solution to relieve the overwhelming demand for the visas.

In a survey sponsored by the state agriculture department and the Chesapeake Bay Seafood Industry Association, most of the crab processing companies said they could be forced to shut down their operations for the season if they don’t get their visas.

From coverage in the Dorchester Star:

Seafood processors, watermen, seafood business owners, and local officials gathered on Monday morning in a crab picking house on Hoopers Island to call for the release of all 64,000 H-2B visas needed for the area’s crab picking houses. Six of Dorchester’s nine crab picking houses did not receive any of the H-2B visas allocated under the current Department of Homeland Security lottery system.

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