Late in July (2020), U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Steny H. Hoyer, all Democrats serving in Maryland, announced almost $300,000 in federal funding for the University of Maryland for research into a new processing technology that could enhance the competitiveness of the domestic blue crab industry. The funding comes from the 2020 Saltonstall-Kennedy Competitive Grants Program through the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.
The lawmakers’ joint press release said “Few things are as iconic as the Chesapeake Bay blue crab, and its harvest is a cornerstone of Maryland’s local economies. This grant will expand the competitiveness of domestically produced crab meat in the face of intense foreign competition, and will help unlock new markets for an important Maryland industry”.
In recent years the U.S. blue claw crab industry has faced increasing competition from imported products, especially Venezuelan fresh pre-cooked crab, which has a longer shelf life but doesn’t taste as good as our local blue claw crab. But this has still resulted in a major loss of market share for the regional seafood industry. This new high-pressure processing technology will extend shelf life of domestic crab products, while improving food safety and expanding market strategies among the seafood industry.
The lawmakers previously advocated for U.S. fisheries in their April letter to the Department of Commerce, urging coordination with states to quickly allocate assistance and inclusion of Maryland’s value-added seafood processors in relief aid set aside in the CARES Act for fisheries.
Seperately, Baysave advocates for additional research in aquaculture cultivation and enhancement of natural populations of blue claw crabs in the Delaware Bay.