BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland is in the middle of a major price surge on crabs. The bay crab season is getting off to a rough start. Some restaurants still have not served a single local crab.
Meghan McCorkell explains how that’s driving up the price for you.
Many of the the crabs being served in Maryland restaurants right now are being shipped in from out of state. And that cost is being passed on to the consumer.
The crack of the mallet is a familiar sound across Maryland. But right now, a crab feast will cost you.
“Nowadays, if you can afford it once a month, that’s a good deal,” said Jim Kahn, S&J Crab Ranch.
At S&J Crab Ranch, Maryland crabs are not yet on the menu because the fishing season has been so slow.
Instead, owner Jim Kahn has to ship crabs in from Louisiana and Texas at a huge cost.
“Shipping is expensive. You have to go to the airport to pick up crabs. We have a truck that comes in from Louisiana,” said Kahn.
At Norris Seafood in Essex, customers are hungry for crabs.
“Everybody asks why’s crabs so expensive? We try to explain,” said Sonny Norris, Norris Seafood.
Sonny Norris has been hitting the bay in search of blue crabs, but says he’s seeing extremely few.
“It’s hard to even catch a bushel out of 500 traps,” he said.
Earlier this season, state officials announced that the Maryland crab population had rebounded from previous years.
This year, 410 million crabs are estimated in the bay–a 38 percent increase over last year.
“You can draw no correlation from those reports what makes a good season or a bad season,” said Blair Baltus with the Watermen’s Association.
Blatus says crabs are unpredictable.
“I do know a couple things about them–they swim, they bite, they taste good, they magically appear and they magically disappear,” he said.
Now everyone hopes for a late season surge.
“We hope that Maryland crabs come on like they never have before,” said Blatus.
So the price goes down, and more people dig in.
The watermen say they believe more crabs will move into the bay by August or September.
The bay’s crab population is still estimated below the average, which is 454 million.