WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Steny H. Hoyer, all D-Md., July 27 announced $299,963 in federal funding for the University of Maryland, College Park 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.

“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,” said the lawmakers.

The U.S. blue crab industry has faced increasing competition from imported products, especially Venezuelan fresh pre-cooked crab, which has a longer shelf life. This has resulted in a major loss of market share for the Maryland 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.

The Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program provides funding to meet the needs of fishing communities, working waterfronts and fisheries, while promoting businesses and investing in sustainable U.S. seafood production and harvesting.

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