The Senate Environment and Energy Committee today advanced legislation (S-178) 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 Delegation offered the following remarks following the Committee’s action:
“The Hooked on Fishing – Not On Drugs Program is the flagship education program of the Future Fisherman Foundation. As a coastal state with extensive waterway systems and a proud cultural tradition of fishing, New Jersey is an ideal location for this Program to be a successful deterrent to drug use.
“What sets this Program apart from traditional approaches to drug abatement are its core principles which consist of developing positive life skills and promoting an appreciation of wildlife and the outdoors while teaching school-aged children angling skills.
“Based on its proven track record, the Hooked on Fishing – Not On Drugs Program has tremendous support among the recreational fishing community as well as various other sportsmen organizations throughout the state. The impressive list of organizational support includes 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.
“As demonstrated by a strong showing of bipartisan support, this Program offers an innovative approach for New Jersey to improve efforts to steer our youth away from a self-destructive life of drug addiction.
“The cost of running the Program would be appropriated from an already existing fund established to support drug and alcohol abuse abatement programs which has carried over a surplus over the course of several fiscal years.”
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.
On February 2, the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee advanced the identical companion measure (A-638) which, subsequently, was referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.