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Contact Information

NEFSC James J. Howard
Marine Sciences Laboratory
74 Magruder Road, Sandy Hook
Highlands, NJ 07732
(732) 872-3000

50 Year Anniversary Banner & Building 19 Picture


Dedicated in September 1961, the Sandy Hook Marine Laboratory was the first Federal scientific laboratory devoted solely to research on marine recreational species. Notably, the 1959 passage of the Marine Game Fish Act had enabled the beginning of the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, and the naming of the laboratory's first director, the eminent biologist Dr. Lionel A. Walford. The laboratory was incorporated into the new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) within the U.S. Dept. of Commerce in 1970.

Research expanded to include studies of ecosystem responses to toxins and other environmental degradation, focusing on the New York Bight, where inshore impacts were profound. In 1985, the Sandy Hook Laboratory was destroyed by arson. Most equipment, research files and documentation, and a 33,000 volume fisheries library were lost. In 1986-87, a location very near the former laboratory site was selected for constructing a new facility. At the groundbreaking ceremony in 1989, the new lab was named the James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory after the late James Howard, U.S. Representative of New Jersey's 3rd District, who led the lab rebuilding effort.

Today the Howard Laboratory houses an extensive seawater system supporting research in 11 seawater labs and a 32,000 gallon aquarium, with a focus on feeding, reproduction, migration and other life habits and behavior of coastal marine species. Several dedicated laboratory suites are available to support research on ocean acidification, analytical chemistry, organic chemistry, benthic taxonomy and microbiology. The Lab is home to many of the staff in the NEFSC's Ecosystems Processes Division, and research currently focuses on the effects of climate change, ocean acidification and human activities such as fishing and renewable energy production on coastal habitats and fisheries, assessment of fish habitat condition, and coastal and marine spatial planning. The staff supports numerous local, regional, national and international scientific organizations. Notably, the facility is also home for personnel from several other NOAA Fisheries offices.

Over its 50 year history, the Howard Laboratory has produced thousands of publications documenting its continuum of research on understanding the effects of environmental variability, and human disturbances on fish and shellfish productivity relative to habitat. Remarkably, the Lionel A. Walford Library is still home for these publications and praised for its extensive collection of fisheries-related archives and journals.

Note: The Legacy Research Gallery located at oclc.org includes the digitization of images related to our laboratory's legacy research. The digitization project was supported by the NOAA Preserve America Initiative, aimed at preserving, protecting and promoting our Nation's rich heritage.

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