Family, and Work in
Maryland's Blue Crab Fishery
Paolisso, Principal Investigator
Stacey Hockett Sherlock, Co-Principal Investigator
Maryland's lower Chesapeake Bay, the shedding and marketing of soft
crabs is a thriving business that relies on the labor of women as
well as watermen. There are several reasons why we are looking
at the work of women in the soft crab fishery:
of the blue crab fishery rarely identify the important contributions
of women who are not working directly on the water;
- There is very
little literature that describes the shedding and marketing of soft
- There is significant
variation in women's roles in the soft crab fishery;
- Women's non-fishery
paid employment is important in maintaining the family blue crab
- Little is known
about how declines in fishing yields and increased regulations affect
women and their work, both in the fishery and in their other economic
predominant production unit in the soft crab industry is the household.
Although the roles of family members vary in each household, the work
of women is often essential to a successful shedding operation.
In addition to constantly monitoring crab floats to "fish-up"
newly shed crabs, women often clean, pack, and market their family's
soft crabs, maintain the financial books, and do housework such as
cooking and cleaning. Women's non-fishery paid employment can
secure health insurance for the family, and provides income the cushions
hardship when crab prices drop or the harvest is low.
Funding for this project is provided by the Maryland Population Research
Center, formerly the Center on Population, Gender, and Social Inequality,
located at the University of Maryland, College Park.