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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2004

Contact: Karen Hershey
(609) 984-1795

EDUCATION AND RECREATION COME TOGETHER
THROUGH DEP'S INNOVATIVE URBAN FISHING PROGRAM

(04/66) TRENTON - The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today that its successful Harbor Estuary Urban Fishing program is underway again this year in various locations throughout New Jersey. The four-day program teaches children about the link between water quality and human health through classroom instruction and hands on contact with local waters.

"Students have fun and learn to fish while learning about the complex and fragile nature of the state's urban waterways," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "DEP's urban fishing program empowers children to take personal responsibility for protecting their environment."

The Harbor Estuary Urban Fishing program, now in its eighth year, grew out of the department's fish advisory outreach program that included participation from community groups. Children ranging in ages from 14 to 17 spend the first day in the classroom learning about environmental protection.

The three-day field portion of the program includes a litter clean-up project, a water monitoring eco-cruise and the highlight of the program, a fishing excursion which focuses on ethics and conservation. The program also includes a storm drain marking program that can help municipalities fulfill their stormwater permitting requirements.

The urban fishing program fosters urban environmental stewardship and provides useful public information, key elements in addressing potential environmental justice concerns. On February 18, 2004, Governor James E. McGreevey signed an Executive Order calling for increased distribution and education of fish advisories in underserved communities and low income communities.

Newark, Bayonne, Carteret, Jersey City, Elizabeth and Kearny are currently participating in the program with the help of various local groups. The Hackensack Riverkeepers Association, the Greater Newark Conservancy and the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority are a few of the partners that have joined forces with the Department since the program began in 1996. This year, the Hackensack Riverkeepers Association received a $20,000 grant from DEP's watershed program to help coordinate the program and conduct some of the sessions.

In order to measure the effectiveness of the program, before and after surveys are given to participating students to determine whether the learning objectives have been met. Prior urban fishing program surveys show that participating students gain significant knowledge about fish consumption advisories and human health, watershed identification, non-point source pollution, public trust and personal responsibility.

To learn more about the Harbor Estuary Urban Fishing Program, visit the Department's website at:

http://www.state.nj.us/dep/watershedmgt/outreachorg.htm#urbanfish

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