U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke stopped by the economically beleaguered state of Michigan to announce the opening of a new “Commerce Connect” office in the city of Plymouth. According to the Detroit Free Press, the office “will act as a one-stop shop for businesses to access all the federal government has to offer, from research and development tools, to grants, to licensing assistance.”
The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — housed at the U.S. Dept. of Commerce because Dick Nixon wasn’t getting along with his own Secretary of the Interior — has determined that the decline in the harvest of Chesapeake Bay blue crabs is a “commercial fishery failure.” With that declaration by the “stewards” of the nation’s fisheries, Chesapeake crab fishermen are looking at a bailout (popular word these days) of up to 15 million taxpayer dollars over the next three years.
The Examiner reports that Maryland Watermen’s Association President Larry Simns and his members were “elated.” Go figure. Simns says that this is not a handout because the money would be used to put the crabbers to work restoring fisheries, planting trees, etc. Perhaps they can staff the exhibits at the NOAA-partnered Smithsonian Institution’s “Ocean Hall” opening this weekend too.
What kind of message does this latest government intervention send to other commercial fishermen? Overfish, deplete your source of income, and the taxpayer will numb your pain. Of course, NOAA bureaucrats will then cite resulting fishery depletions as justification for a budget increase. Big Government 101.