Fishing for Anglers
Fishing Program introduces more young urbanites to water
By Jared Eudell
Thanks to the Harbor Watershed and Urban Fishing Program, about 150 children from urban schools got the chance to experience local waterways as they never had before—from the water. Staff from Hackensack Riverkeeper (HRI) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection this spring taught six classes of seventh graders the basics of fishing and pollution, as well as their connection to waterways within their communities.
The curriculum consisted of a four-day sequence of lessons bringing the students closer to “the Hudson,” the term many children used to describe the nearest body of water, whatever it happened to be. Only one of the classes, the one from Jersey City, was actually closest to the Hudson; the other classes from Newark, Elizabeth and Bayonne were closer to the Passaic River, Arthur Kill and Newark Bay, respectively.
On the first day of the program, we introduced geography and terminology in relation to rivers, estuaries and watersheds. We also discussed toxic contamination lying in ambush in fish and crabs their parents may bring home for supper that evening. (See “The Crab Project: A Matter of Life or Death”.)
The next three days were all spent outdoors. On the first, the kids pitched in on a neighborhood clean-up and learned the dangers of non-point source pollution (people pollution). The next day, the kids went to the water for an eco-cruise. They also did some chemical testing and discussed the effects of pollution on the water and wildlife.
On the final day of the program, we went back to the water for a day of catch-and-release fishing. Besides angling, we showed them the correct way to clean a fish, for when they catch fish in cleaner waters.
The program is staffed by HRI, NJDEP’s Divisions of Watershed Management, Science and Research, Fish and Wildlife and by Watershed Ambassadors. (See “WMA5 Ambassador Update”.) Additional funds were provided by the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority, with support from the Greater Newark Conservancy, Hudson County Technical School’s Explore 2000, Elizabeth Presbyterian Center, the City of Bayonne and Robin’s Reef Yacht Club.
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