Rough seas ahead: Seafood industry takes coronavirus hit

(WBAL) - Maryland’s seafood industry could be in real trouble because of the coronavirus.

Image source: NBC News Channel/WBAL

As restaurants move to carryout only, demand for seafood has plummeted and the crab season is just around the corner.

Jason Ruth, owner of Harris’ Seafood Company says usually during oyster season, he’s processing hundreds of bushels a day; now he’s processing virtually nothing.

After restaurants were forced to close their dining rooms, demand for seafood dropped dramatically.

“Right now, the climate in the seafood business is absolutely horrific ever since the announcements that eat-in restaurants were shut down. We really took it on the chin. It virtually shut down the last two weeks that were left in the oyster season,” Ruth says.

Out on the water, those who catch the oysters are feeling the pain, as well, on what was set to be one of the better oyster seasons on record.

“It kind of put us out of business and now we’re looking at spring fishing and going into summer fishing, and the markets are slowed almost to a standstill for that and now we’re worried about the crabs,” says Jim Reihl, Maryland Oysterman’s Association president.