At the California Republican Party Convention on Saturday, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz blamed the state’s economic and water woes on a tiny fish known as the Delta smelt.

In recent years, the endangered Delta smelt has come to symbolize the division between California’s conservatives and conservationists. Federal protections under the Endangered Species Act require that humans not take every last drop of the water from the smelt’s ecosystem for our own uses. This not only protects the smelt, but the entire Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, one of the state’s largest wildlife habitats. And naturally, that enrages conservatives like Cruz, who would prefer to divert water for agriculture and other uses in California’s Central Valley.

“I’m sure it will drive our friends in the media crazy when I observe that in my experience, three-inch fish go great with cheese and crackers,” Cruz said in an apparent attempt at a joke. “But as a result of those policies, 1.4 trillion gallons of fresh water could provide for over 6 million Californians for six years. Over 17,000 farm jobs have been lost. Migrant farm workers, Hispanic workers have been thrown out of work because of the misguided regulations.”