The Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee has advanced legislation (A-638) sponsored by Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove that would establish a “Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs” (HOFNOD) program within the Division of Fish and Wildlife to encourage children to avoid drug use.
“Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs” is a nationally recognized program developed by the Future Fisherman Foundation which has operated successfully in over a dozen states. The Connors-Rumpf-Gove measure would establish the HOFNOD program on a Statewide basis by enabling the Division of Fish and Wildlife to implement and model the program after the pilot HOFNOD program implemented in Ocean County in 2000. To the maximum extent possible, the Division would implement and operate the program in every county in the State.
The 9th District Legislators’ legislation would establish the program’s funding source as the Drug Enforcement and Demand Reduction Fund (DEDRF) from which there would be a $200,000 appropriation to support the cost of implementing the program. This is a statutory account established to receive fines and penalties from convicted drug offenders that are used to support State authorized drug and alcohol abuse abatement programs.
Following the Committee’s supportive action on their anti-drug initiative, the 9th District Delegation offered the following remarks:
“In light of the tremendous costs associated with law enforcement and incarceration in combating drug use, the Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs program offers an innovative alternative approach to drug prevention among our youth. Core principles of the Program consist of developing positive life skills and promoting an appreciation of wildlife and the outdoors while teaching school-aged children angling skills.
“As the flagship education program of the Future Fisherman’s Foundation, Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs boasts a proven track record of success in other states with an established curriculum from which New Jersey can base its own program. More importantly, it plays to the state’s strengths in terms of resources, such as 127 miles of coastline, numerous waterways, and an active sportsmen community.
“It is, therefore, not surprising that the legislation has strong bipartisan support from legislators representing Districts throughout the state. Protecting our children from the self-destructive and dangerous criminal elements of drug use is something that transcends political affiliation. Additionally, organizations such as the New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association, the Jersey Coast Anglers Association, the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, and the United Bowhunters of New Jersey have all testified in support of establishing a Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs program in the state.
“Lastly, it is important to note that funding for the Program is available as the Drug Enforcement and Demand Reduction Fund has carried over a surplus at the end of the fiscal year for the past several years.”