Virginia's blue crab industry continues to struggle


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
November 24, 2014

The downtown waterfront here at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay used to be dotted with so many crab processing plants that Hampton was once known as Crabtown.

But after decades of declines in the blue crab population, only one of the original 13 processing plants downtown remains. And today, packages of fresh crab meat and crab cakes shipped out by Graham and Rollins to customers around the nation year-round are just as likely to come from another continent as they are from the waters in the Chesapeake Bay.

“The crab picking industry as we once knew has perished,” said Johnny Graham, an owner of Graham and Rollins.

At its peak in 1966, Virginia watermen landed more than 64 million pounds of crab. Last year, that figure was down to less than 18 million pounds.

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