James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory at Sandy Hook

New Jersey laboratory of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Our Location

The James J. Howard Marine Sciences Lab is uniquely situated In the Mid-Atlantic, on the Sandy Hook peninsula located about 12 miles from New York City. With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and New Jersey bays and rivers on the other, the lab is uniquely positioned to conduct research in highly urbanized waterways. Yet we are within several hours of relatively undisturbed estuaries in southern New Jersey.  

Our location within this busy metropolitan area allows us to work closely with interested international, federal, regional, state, and academic scientists, and to participate in undergraduate and graduate education programs as advisers and mentors. 

Directions to James J. Howard Lab


Our Leadership

Management Team

Our History

The Howard Marine Laboratory was preceded by NOAA Fisheries' Sandy Hook Laboratory, which began operation at Fort Hancock in 1961. It was established as a research arm of the Interior Department's Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, following passage of the Marine Game Fish Act in 1959, and became a regional center for research on marine game fish and the environment. In 1971, the laboratory became part of the newly formed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service (now NOAA Fisheries). 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, and a 33,000 volume fisheries library were lost. After the fire, the staff moved into trailers and old former army barracks to carry out modest experiments in limited space. In 1986-87, New Jersey was selected as the location for constructing a new facility close to the former laboratory site. 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.