Coronavirus pandemic leaves Maryland's crab season in uncharted waters

The coronavirus pandemic has already left Maryland’s crab season in uncharted waters.

“It’s not looking very good,” Maryland Watermen’s Association President Robert T. Brown said Monday.

Aboard his boat floating in the Potomac River near Coltons Point, Brown told FOX 5 that watermen aren’t worried about the number of crabs they’ll catch this season so much as how they’ll get them to consumers, adding that because of various factors like a mild winter, he actually thinks the crab supply will be above average this season.

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“Fifty percent of people eat crabs at restaurants when they sit down, and if that’s where 50 percent of our crabs go to, well look what happens – that’s 50 percent of your market that’s gone,” Brown explained.

(Photo credit should read ROD LAMKEY JR/AFP via Getty Images)

He’s not the only one concerned about this season’s outlook. Bill Sieling, the executive vice president of the Chesapeake Bay Seafood Industries Association also predicted good supply with uncertain demand. He added that prices for consumers will likely fall as a result, but neither he nor Brown were sure by how much.

“Nobody knows what’s going to happen,” Sieling said. He also noted that the Seafood Industries Association still isn’t sure how many H-2B visas will be issued for seasonal crab pickers this year or whether the coronavirus pandemic will be a factor.

For the time being, Brown encouraged crab lovers to pick up crabs and eat them at home, saying it’s one way to support the region’s watermen during these uncertain times.

“Supply and demand,” Brown said. “We’re going to have the supply, but where are the people going to get the crabs at? Right now it’s just carry-outs. We need the sit down restaurants and stuff to be open again.”

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