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The Barnegat Bay Partnership

An Overview

The Barnegat Bay Partnership (BBP or Partnership) is one of 28 estuaries of “national significance” in the United States and is funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program (NEP).   The NEP was created in response to the Clean Water Act, Section 320, which directs the EPA to develop plans for attaining or maintaining water quality in an estuary. 

The BBP is a partnership of federal, state, county, municipal, academic, business, and private stakeholders in the Barnegat Bay watershed working together to help restore, maintain, protect, and enhance the natural resources of the Barnegat Bay estuary and its contributing watershed.  Click here to find more information about our partners.

The staff of the BBP works to coordinate and maintain the partnership while ensuring progress on implementation of Strategic Plan Priorities and the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) action items. The BBP office and its staff are a department of Ocean County College. 

The Association of National Estuary Programs (ANEP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the preservation and restoration of our nation’s vital estuaries. ANEP works with the 28 individual programs in the National Estuary Program.

Our Mission

In cooperation with our community, the BBP is committed to action to restore, maintain, protect, and enhance the natural resources of the Barnegat Bay estuary and its contributing watershed through the 21st century. We are guided by the following principles:

  • Encouraging and motivating residents and visitors to maintain an ethic of responsibility for the bay and the watershed.
  • Educating people about the cultural heritage, historic traditions, and natural estuarine resources of the Barnegat Bay watershed.
  • Implementing community-based environmental planning for an increased quality of life and economic viability for the region.
  • Integrating scientific data to prioritize the focal issues of point and nonpoint sources of pollution, habitat loss/open space, water quality degradation, and the multiple interests in the watershed region.
  • Promoting sustainable management of operative efforts of citizens, businesses, local, state, and federal governments and other stakeholders.
  • Acknowledging and planning for the rising population and increased uses of ground- and surface-water.
  • Maintaining recreational and commercial fisheries through a healthy watershed.

Ecosystem-Based Management Approach

The BBP utilizes an ecosystem-based management approach to protecting and preserving the natural resources of the Barnegat Bay estuary. Ecosystem-based management relies on the following key principles:

  1. Partnerships and citizen participation;
  2. A science-based approach, which means using the best available scientific knowledge (social, economic, and ecological) as a foundation for decision-making;
  3. Understanding natural resource interrelationships;
  4. Focus on sustainability of whole ecological systems.  A long-term view and a comprehensive perspective, which means finding solutions that support economic prosperity, lasting livelihoods, and ecological health. The BBP is focusing on the following issues to effect change and understanding of this complex system.

Early Program History

The BBP began in March 1995, when Governor Christine Todd Whitman submitted an application to the USEPA to have the Barnegat Bay/Little Egg Harbor estuarine system included in the National Estuary Program, that is, to be recognized as an "estuary of national significance"At its inception, and for its first 12 years, it went by the name of the Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program. 

In July 1995, USEPA Administrator Carol Browner officially named the Barnegat Bay/Little Egg Harbor estuarine system a National Estuary Program.

In April 1996, the USEPA and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) signed a joint conference agreement and officially convened the Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program Management Conference.  During the next eight years of the Program, the Management Conference was engaged in numerous activities to accomplish the development of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) to meet the goals of Section 320 of the CWA.  The CCMP was approved on May 15, 2002.