George LeMieux Sides With Charter Fishermen; Asks for Looser Restrictions on Catch Limits

In a post yesterday that's part of our Panning for Gold series, I made a crack about how it's rather foolish to trust a charter fisherman's hunch about the sustainability of fish population -- not just for the obvious fox-running-the-hen-house reasons. Mainly, it's because there's a much more reliable, objective means for ascertaining fish population: the federal government's science-based research tools.

As if on cue, Florida's Broward-born, shiny-new senator, George LeMieux, can be seen in the video above (also from yesterday) asking the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to relax restrictions against fishermen like those who protested recently in Fort Walton Beach, claiming they knew the fish population better than government researchers.

The money quote from LeMieux's statement to Dr. Jane Lubchenco:

"I have serious concerns about the information the National Marine Fisheries Service is using to set new fishing restrictions and closures. I am hearing from fishermen in Florida that the information is not accurate and possibly opposite to the scarcity reports being used to create these fishing standards."

Translation: Charlie Crist and I want to curry favor with the charter fishing industry in advance of the 2010 election, so I'm going to bust your balls on their behalf. Please make some symbolic effort that I can show the charter fishermen as proof that I'm working hard for them.

Lubchenco took the cue, promising to appoint someone who can improve relations between her agency and the charter fishermen, and LeMieux's office was quick to display its trophy catch to sea-faring constituents.

Remember this moment of government growth, Marco Rubio, when Crist and LeMieux start preaching about how fiercely they're committed to small government. And Kendrick Meek: You too should remember this moment, especially if next summer researchers find that the coastal fish population is even more threatened than today by over-fishing.

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