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State Facts

Miles of Coast: 1,792

Coastal Population (2000): 7,913,312

Lead Coastal Management Agency: New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission

Approval Date: 1978

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Ocean and Coastal Management in New Jersey

New Jersey's Coastal Program

The New Jersey Coastal Programwas approved by NOAA in 1978 and is directly administered by its lead agency the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in partnership with the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, as the lead planning agency for the Hackensack Meadowlands District. The Coastal Program is based on three major laws: the Coastal Area Facilities Review Act, the Wetlands Act of 1970, and the Waterfront Development Law.

sandy beach

Coastal management in New Jersey seeks to balance many issues such as coastal development, tourism, energy needs, and natural area preservation.

New Jersey's coastal zone encompasses tidal and non-tidal waters, waterfronts and inland areas.  The coastal zone includes the Hudson River from the interstate border with New York and related tidal waters, south to the Raritan Bay.  It continues along the Raritan Bay then extends south from Sandy Hook to Cape May Point encompassing the state territorial waters of the Atlantic Ocean and associated tidal water bodies.  From Cape May Point, the coastal zone trends north to Trenton and contains waters of the Delaware Bay and River and includes tidal portions of their tributaries. Upland areas along these tidal waterways are included within the coastal zone.

New Jersey’s coastal zone boundary encompasses approximately 1,800 miles of tidal coastline, including 126 miles along the Atlantic oceanfront from Sandy Hook to Cape May.  It ranges in width from 100 feet to 16.5 miles.

The Coastal Program faces several challenges due to its dense population, coastal hazards, polluted runoff, and impaired water quality. Major economic activities in this area include ports, tourism, fishing, and shellfishing. The state’s coastal policies and procedures are administered through New Jersey’s Coastal Zone Management rules, which are broken down by special areas (shellfish habitat, intertidal and subtidal shallows, wetlands)  general water areas ( Atlantic Ocean, man-made harbor, open bay, etc.); use (industry, port, housing, etc.); and resource (shellfisheries, groundwater, vegetation, etc.).

New Jersey’s National Estuarine Research Reserve

The 114,665-acre Jacques Cousteau Research Reserve is located in Tuckerton, in southeastern New Jersey, and is the only reserve to extend its boundaries seaward to the Atlantic Ocean. The Reserve’s lead agency is Rutgers University and the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, but the reserve’s area is a patchwork of state and federal lands, co-managed by a variety of agencies. With only one percent of the Reserve's land subjected to development, the area is considered to be one of the least disturbed estuaries in the Northeast. The Reserve offers several habitats, including pinelands region, lowland forests, brackish marsh regions, and coastal areas. The Reserve staff conducts research on the physical, chemical and biological components of the site estuaries and neighboring watersheds to gain a better understanding for the environmental processes and ecological characteristics of the Reserve.

Program Achievements

New Jersey Coastal Nonpoint Program Receives Full Approval

Hudson River Waterfront Walkway

Shrink Wrap Recycling and Monofilament Recycling Programs

New Meadowlands Master Plan Incorporated into Coastal Management Program


New Jersey Coastal Program — The website provides information on the program’s activities, including clean marinas and land use regulations.

Jacques Cousteau Research Reserve — The website provides information on the Reserve's research, education, and stewardship activities.

Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology — This program brief describes investments in technology development and research projects for the state of New Jersey.

Marine Protected Areas — Search for marine protected areas in New Jersey.

New Jersey Coastal Nonpoint Program Conditional Approval Document — The Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Program encourages better coordination between state coastal zone managers and water quality to reduce polluted run-off in the coastal zone.

New Jersey Coastal Program Evaluation (2008) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of federally approved state coastal management programs.

Jacques Cousteau Estuarine Research Reserve Evaluation (2008) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of estuarine research reserves.

New Jersey Coastal Zone Enhancement Program Assessment and Strategy (2011-2016) — Every five years, the Coastal Zone Management Act encourages states and territories to conduct self-evaluations of their coastal management programs to assess significant changes in the state’s coastal resources and management practices, identify critical needs, and prioritize areas for enhancement under the Coastal Zone Enhancement Program.

Contact Information for New Jersey’s Programs

Department of Environmental Protection
Office of Coastal Management and Watershed Restoration
P.O. Box 418
401 E. State Street
Trenton, NJ 08625
(609) 633-2201

Jacques Cousteau Coastal Education Center
130 Great Bay Boulevard
Tuckerton, NJ 08087
(609) 812-0649

New Jersey Coastal Nonpoint Program receives full approval

In January 2010, NOAA and EPA granted New Jersey full approval of its Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control (6217) Program, which outlines how the state, through regulatory and voluntary means, implements water pollution control management measures. The 6217 Program applies statewide in New Jersey.
New Jersey submitted its 6217 Program document in 1995. In 1997, NOAA and EPA conditionally approved the 6217 Program, determining that some of the management measures were not sufficiently met. Since that time, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has made several changes in policy and has entered into Memoranda of Agreement with other State Departments to fulfill the requirements.

The final outstanding condition pertained to the development of a process for inspection of on-site sewage disposal systems (OSDS) at a frequency that was considered adequate for determining whether systems are failing. This condition was met via the readoption of the Water Quality Management Planning Rules N.J.A.C. 7:15, with amendments. These rules prescribe water quality management policies, procedures and standards which protect public health; safeguard fish, aquatic life, and scenic and ecological values; and enhance domestic, municipal, recreational, industrial and other uses of water. The rules were amended to include a requirement that NJ municipalities establish a mandatory maintenance program to ensure the proper functioning of OSDS. Specifically, an approvable Wastewater Management Plan must “Demonstrate that areas to be served by individual subsurface sewage disposal systems are subject to a mandatory maintenance program, such as an ordinance, which ensures that all individual subsurface sewage disposal systems are functioning properly. This shall include requirements for periodic pump out and maintenance, as needed." The NJ Coastal Management Program worked closely with the EPA, NOAA and the NJDEP Division of Watershed Management to review the elements of the rules and demonstrate how they fulfilled the final outstanding condition.


Hudson River Waterfront Walkway

A significant percent of New Jersey’s population resides in the northeast portion of the state where development pressures are intense, especially along the waterfront. Preserving and protecting public access to trust lands, waters, and resources in this urban setting can be a significant challenge for the state’s planners and lawmakers.

In 1988, the Coastal Zone Management rules established specific criteria for development along the Hudson River Waterfront Area including the creation of the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway. The Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, a waterfront corridor spanning nine municipalities, balances the interests of economic development along a thriving waterfront with the public's right to access opportunities along tidal waters. When complete, this Walkway will be an urban waterfront corridor extending over 40 miles. Under the Coastal Zone Management rules, each new development or redevelopment project in the area is required to construct and maintain a segment of the Walkway. Historically, public access to the waterfront in this urban area was precluded by industrial use of the land.

In December 2009, another segment of the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway was completed. With the completion of this segment, there now exists an almost continuous pedestrian path through North Bergen and into West New York and Weehawken (with the exception of a quarter mile section in Guttenberg that is still incomplete) and beyond into Hoboken. The newly completed segment improves pedestrian access to the portions of Walkway north and south of the site. 

In this case, the new segment that was completed was the result of the construction of an electrical substation in North Bergen, Hudson County that is owned by Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), a public energy services company. Following an extensive review of gap or incomplete sites along the Walkway, the NJ Coastal Management Program determined that the PSEG’s project site was among the sites where the development project was complete but the Walkway was not. All elements of the Coastal Management Program, including the Coastal Management Office, Division of Land Use Regulation and the Office of Coastal Land Use Enforcement, worked in close coordination with PSEG staff to finalize the design plans for the Walkway. This required negotiations with adjacent landowners, as the PSEG site would have to connect with the existing Walkway on either end. The Coastal Management Office coordinated meetings, conference calls, and site visits with agency and PSEG personnel and helped facilitate agreement on the final design plan for the Walkway segment.

The Walkway has been a continuing effort over many years, involving public-private partnerships with state and local government, commercial developers, and public interest groups. For example, in 2002, the NJ Coastal Management Program facilitated the construction of a Walkway section on land leased for 50 years to the City of Hoboken from Stevens Institute of Technology. The Coastal Management Program is now coordinating with the Stevens Institute of Technology to continue the Walkway for approximately 400 feet south of the Castle Point segment. Also, the NJDEP is committed to closing the gap in the Walkway along the Morris Canal Little Basin in Jersey City and is working with the NJ Department of Treasury, NJ Department of Transportation and Langan Engineering & Environmental Services toward this end, with construction anticipated to begin this fall. NJ Transit has completed the construction of the Long Slip Pedestrian Bridge, which links the Newport area of Jersey City with the Hoboken Terminal, providing pedestrians with a direct path to light rail, commuter rail, bus, PATH and ferry services. The NJDEP Office of Coastal Land Use Enforcement has also begun work on a GIS-based map of the entire Walkway. 


Shrink Wrap Recycling and Monofilament Recycling Programs

Plastic shrink wrap is a popular and cost-effective material used by marinas and boat owners to protect boats and other marine vessels from harsh winter weather conditions, sunshine and other harmful elements. However, this nonbiodegradable material presents a serious waste disposal problem. Through the Shrink Wrap Plus Recycling Program, NJ DEP’s Coastal Management Office and the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium/New Jersey Sea Grant are committed to recycling the hundreds of tons of shrink wrap that are discarded each spring.

The Shrink Wrap Plus Recycling Program provides funding to counties that have committed to collecting and recycling boat shrink wrap material for 5 years starting in 2008. Through a competitive pass-thru grant process, nine counties were awarded funding to develop effective and efficient methods to collect, bale and recycle the boat shrink wrap. The funding will be used by municipalities for activities such as the purchase of bins for shrink wrap collection, transportation costs, and educational efforts. It is anticipated that the revenue from the initial efforts will sustain the shrink wrap recycling program within each county for years afterwards.

The NJ Coastal Management Program is also addressing the negative impacts of discarded monofilament fishing line. Discarded monofilament fishing line can wreak havoc on the marine environment by entangling, injuring and killing marine birds and aquatic wildlife. It can also cost boaters thousands of dollars when it gets caught in boat propellers and other gear. The New Jersey Coastal Management Office has partnered with the BoatU.S. Foundation and the BoatU.S. Angler Program to collect and recycle monofilament fishing line. The partnership has distributed collection bins and signs to many locations. The host facility collects the material from the bins and ships it in postage paid boxes to Berkeley Conservation for recycling. The NJ Coastal Management Program encourages all boaters, fishermen, marina owners and others to collect and recycle used monofilament fishing line to keep it out of the marine environment and help prevent unnecessary harm to aquatic life and personal watercraft. Instructions for how to build a collection bin for about $25, for any marinas, boat yards or other facilities that are interested in participating can be found at http://www.njcleanmarina.org/


New Meadowlands Master Plan Incorporated into Coastal Management Program

The Hackensack Meadowlands District is a 19,485 acre area of water, coastal wetlands and associated uplands located along the Hackensack River covering parts of 14 municipalities in Bergen and Hudson Counties in New Jersey. In January 2004, the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission adopted a revised Master Plan which establishes a series of strategies to guide the realization of the overall vision of the Meadowlands District, according to six District-wide functional systems: natural environment, economic development, transportation, housing, community facilities, and historic resources. The revised Master Plan also includes a new Land Use Plan for the District that has provided the impetus for the development of revised District Zoning Regulations. It seeks to avoid, or minimize and mitigate for, any adverse effects to coastal resources, and coastal water quality. The NJMC Master Plan (2004) is the first major revision to the original master plan, published in October 1970. 

The NJMC Master Plan sets forth policies that guide development in the District. These policies are enforced through implementation of the District Zoning Regulations. From 1980 to 2004, the Master Plan and zoning regulations have served as enforceable policies under the NJCMP. In order to reflect the new vision of the NJMC Master Plan adopted in 2004, and to better respond to changes in land use trends and development patterns within the District, the NJMC amended the District Zoning Regulations, N.J.A.C. 19:4.

The staff of the Coastal Management Office and New Jersey Meadowlands Commission drafted the program change document incorporating the NJMC Master Plan and District Zoning Regulations into New Jersey’s coastal management program as enforceable policies, which was accomplished with publication of notice in the November 16, 2009 New Jersey Register. The incorporation of these documents into New Jersey’s coastal management program ensures that enforceable policies are in place to protect and manage the State’s coastal resources and uses in this special area.