With the Maryland blue crab harvest underway, workers, including those from other countries, are needed to support the state’s seafood industry and seasonal employers.
Gov. Larry Hogan is urging federal officials to make more H-2B Nonimmigrant Temporary Worker Program visas available.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Hogan asked for the elimination of the lottery system and an increase to the maximum allowable number of H-2B visas, which are currently capped at 66,000.
H-2B visas are for temporary nonagricultural workers.
“These essential workers are vital to Maryland’s seafood industry and market, which has grown to include regional, national, and international reach,” said Hogan of the state’s $355 million seafood industry.
Hogan called the lottery system “unfair” and said the lack of these workers would cause “continued hardship” that would “damage America’s seafood industry.”
In addition, he’s asking Mayorkas and Walsh to work with Congress on a long-term and permanent solution to this continuing issue.
Some 450 H2B seasonal workers are needed in a typical year for Maryland’s 23 crab-picking houses, the letter said.
Hogan has extended an invitation to Mayorkas and Walsh to visit a Chesapeake Bay crab house or processor.