2018-2021 Strategic Plan
Introduction & Background
It is widely known as the “Garden State,” but with 130 miles of ocean beaches and 1,792 miles of tidal shoreline, New Jersey could just as easily have been the “Coastal State.” Seventeen of New Jersey’s 21 counties border estuarine or ocean waters. NOAA defines all but one of those counties as coastal, and, under Section 6217 of the Federal 1990 Coastal Zone Management Reauthorization Act, all of New Jersey is considered coastal since all of its watersheds drain to the coast.
New Jersey is home to a number of extraordinary demographics. While it is the fourth smallest state area-wise, it is the most densely populated one in the nation. Like many coastal states, New Jersey is highly dependent upon its coastal resources. In addition to its coastal tourism, boating, and recreational fishing industries, New Jersey is home to nine commercial fishing ports and two of the nation’s largest commercial shipping ports. The value of these industries is enormous, with ports commerce supporting a $50 billion industry, coastal tourism at $28 billion, and total sales revenue in commercial (including aquaculture) and recreational fisheries accounting at nearly $10 billion. More than 1.5 million individuals with per capita incomes among the highest in the nation depend on these coastal-dependent industries for their livelihoods. The coast is also a source of recreation for New Jersey’s nearly 9 million residents and the 91 million-plus potential visitors who live within a four-hour drive.
These competing uses have created intense competition for New Jersey’s coastal lands, waters, and resources. The state’s coastal communities face enormous pressure to balance demand for revenue and growth with protection of marine and coastal resources. In addition, because New Jersey’s coastline is heavily developed, human safety, protection of property, and coastal hazard mitigation are areas of ever-increasing concern. Balancing economic growth, development, and redevelopment, with coastal resource quality and human safety is the critical issue for the future of New Jersey’s coastal communities.
Science-based management and effective public policy are essential to ensuring human health and safety and to preserving New Jersey’s ecological services and economically essential uses. Through this plan, NJSGC renews its commitment to advance knowledge and stewardship for New Jersey’s marine and coastal environments and provide New Jersey’s citizens, stakeholders, and policymakers with a trusted source of sound, unbiased, and evidence-based information and technical assistance to help them make well-informed decisions and take appropriate actions affecting the future of the state’s coastal resources and all who depend on them.
This plan aligns with the National Sea Grant College Program’s 2018- 2021 Strategic Plan and is organized in accordance with its four focus areas: Healthy Coastal Ecosystems, Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture, Resilient Communities and Economies, and Environmental Literacy and Workforce Development. The plan also affirms New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium’s support of the National Sea Grant College Program’s core values and cross-cutting principles while drawing on the unique strengths and abilities of NJSGC to address critical state needs.