The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) recently announced that Dave Chanda will take over as President/Chief Executive Officer in January. Succeeding Frank Peterson in that role, Chanda will be responsible for managing all aspects of RBFF operations while assuming responsibility for meeting the strategic goals set by RBFF leadership. Funding for RBFF comes by way of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund which is comprised of a manufacturing excise tax on fishing tackle and a consumer tax on motorboat fuel.
“What an incredible honor to be selected to lead RBFF,” said Chanda who first joined RBFF in 2017 as Vice President of State & Federal Engagement. “I have had a 23-year long association with this organization and have always been a steadfast supporter of their goals and mission. I look forward to continuing to work with this talented team as we continue to grow fishing and boating opportunities throughout the country.”
“Dave has made tremendous progress advancing state recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) efforts during his time at RBFF,” said RBFF Board Chairman and ZEBCO Past President Jeff Pontius. “We believe he has the knowledge and expertise to continue driving forward RBFF’s successful initiatives while also identifying innovative new solutions that will both support stakeholders and keep fishing and boating relevant with today’s consumers.”
Chanda is the former president of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and holds a Masters’ in Public Administration from Rutgers University. According to RBFF, he’s currently pursuing a Masters’ in Marketing from Johns Hopkins University. Prior to joining RBFF, Chanda spent 37 years with the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife (NJDFW), having joined the education unit as assistant biologist in 1980, later becoming deputy conservation officer and chief of the NJDFW Office of Wildlife Education and Information.
After having published dozens of articles for the old New Jersey Outdoors magazine and writing countless wildlife-related news releases for NJDFW, Chanda was also a member of the New York Metropolitan Outdoor Press Association (NYMOPA), a group which is no longer in existence; as a member of that old organization myself he I got to know Dave pretty well. In 2007, Gov. Jon Corzine approved Chanda’s appointment as NJDFW Director working under then NJDEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson. Over the next several years, he and I battled quite a bit in the court of public opinion as Chanda lobbied from club-to-club on behalf of a saltwater fishing license, while as then managing director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance I stood in vehement opposition to a NJ saltwater license as little more than “tax” on saltwater fishing.
During his club presentations Chanda would often reiterate the phrase “there are no free lunches,” while appealing to sportsman for more NJDFW funding. While it’s true our state fisheries agency is severely shorted of critical funding, I felt then as I do now that without a constitutional provision or some other protection mechanism, what might start as a $10 fee to fish saltwater would become $100 in no time at all (Google “California fishing license” sometime for reference). As Governor Phil Murphy is famous for saying, if you have a problem with high taxes in New Jersey, “we’re probably not your state.”
I always laughed at Chanda’s “no free lunch” mantra during the saltwater license debate; on average, the National School Lunch Program provides low-cost or free daily lunches to 29.6 million children at a cost of roughly $14 billion a year, all furnished by the American taxpayer. I’m not saying I’m opposed to helping feed needy kids, but my point is there are clearly free lunches being served where the American taxpayer is concerned.
As one who helps fund RBFF through taxes on my fishing gear and boat fuel, I sincerely wish Dave all the best; but let’s just remember where that “free lunch” comes from!