Tina Gray of Deer Isle recalls when picking and selling crabmeat was a prevalent cottage industry along the Maine coast. She and other lobstermen’s wives routinely picked and packaged crab meat at their kitchen sinks, she said, but many got out of the trade years ago when new federal rules for seafood processing went into place.

Gray, who’s going on 33 years picking crab meat for a living, remains one of just a few in her area who keep up with the work. She bills herself as “ The Crab Lady.”

“I remember back when I started, there was like 300 people on this island that used to pick [crabmeat] in their homes,” Gray said, picking crab while standing at a work table in a small processing building outside her house. “Now I think there’s a total of maybe eight [processing] licenses on Deer Island and Stonington.”

Crabs, once a more prominent staple among the various marine fisheries in Maine, have always played second fiddle to lobster in the state’s clawed crustacean seafood industry. But the market divide between Maine lobster and crab has grown more acute over the past dozen years. The volume of Maine’s lobster catch has soared to all-time highs while landings for all crab species have declined to their lowest point since the early 1980s.

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