BALTIMORE (AP) — Nearly half of the crab houses in Maryland have no workers to pick crab meat after their mostly Mexican workers failed to get visas.

The Baltimore Sun reports the Trump administration for the first time awarded the visas in a lottery this year, instead of the usual first-come, first-served basis. The shortage hits just as crab season begins. It may cause the price of picked meat to spike while lowering steamed crab prices.

The Sun reports visa shortages are a regular industry issue, but crab house owners say this is the worst they’ve faced. Federal labor officials say there’s an unprecedented demand for visas for seasonal workers in non-agricultural jobs. About 81,000 applications were submitted when only 33,000 visas were available for work from April through September.

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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