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Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs

Council Refuses to Consider Evidence that HOFNOD Works

Press Release
Belmar, NJ

July 22, 2011

"How does the same state government... which dispensed over 700,000 syringes to people whose lives are being destroyed by illegal drug use... conclude that HOFNOD is a gamble...?" Anthony Mauro 

Ed Markowski, President NJOA (EP), addressed the Governor's Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse to educate council members about the proven effectiveness of the Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs program. The Council had recently voted against the HOFNOD program based on false and misleading information, but in spite of being presented with proof of the program's effectiveness refused to reconsider its position. 

Markowski told the committee about the nation-wide success of the HOFNOD program, and provided a sample of the NJ core curriculum. He also discussed a positive evaluation of the program that was conducted by Dr. John Jackson, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, Fisheries and Wildlife Program, Department of Biological Sciences, Arkansas Tech University.

The Council had erroneously considered HOFNOD as a one-day fishing derby and not the 22 week program for early drug interdiction. The majority of council members indicated that the new information provided them with an entirely different understanding of the program. 

After addressing the concerns of individual members Markowski asked if the Council would rescind their June resolution. While the majority indicated that the initial information did not paint an accurate picture of the program, they refused to reconsider their position. 

According to Markowski, "The Council admitted it based its decision not to support HOFNOD on erroneous information, and with the same breath stated it would not take a vote to consider evidence that shows the program works. In effect, the fate of the HOFNOD program was predetermined; it is based on the Council's bias and not facts." 

Markowski continued, "It looks to me as if Health and Human Services (HHS) is the puppet master working the strings of the Council. They recommended that the Council not support the program and used false and unrelated information as the basis for its reasoning. Then the Council would not even consider voting after being presented with correct information. We've seen this approach used before by HHS; they've even used the tactic with state legislators." 

Anthony P. Mauro, Chairman, NJOA EP said, "HOFNOD is geared towards students in grades K-12 and is correlated with NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards. The HOFNOD network includes trained aquatic education professionals in over 30 states with literally thousands of programs nationwide. HOFNOD uses angling skill development and education as a means to teach youth about the benefits of a healthy living and how to deal with the challenges facing them in their young lives. It does not use any tax payer money." 

Mauro asked rhetorically, "How does the same state government that created a pilot needle exchange program, which dispensed over 700,000 syringes to people whose lives are being destroyed by illegal drug use, somehow conclude that HOFNOD is a gamble because it involves our kids in a wholesome, proven-effective drug interdiction program? This is a scenario straight out of Bizzaro world." 

Mauro continued, "This fight isn't over. Governor Christie personally told me that HOFNOD appeared to be a worthy program. Our state legislators in the Senate have demonstrated their support of HOFNOD by voting overwhelmingly to support the bill. The Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee also voted to support the bill. We will continue to appeal to the sensibilities of our state legislators. We will not allow the protection of bureaucratic fiefdoms or institutional prejudice to derail a program that has proven to help kids remain drug free, whether they live in urban, suburban, and rural communities." 



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