Danielsen Bill to Establish Role of State Oceanographer Now Law

A bill Assemblyman Joseph Danielsen sponsored to further the study of marine life and ecosystems in New Jersey recently was signed into law.

“Science ought to be at the forefront of public policy decisions regarding the oceans. In addition to safeguarding the wellbeing of marine ecosystems – a worthy goal in and of itself – the oceanographer’s expert findings will help strengthen critical New Jersey industries like aquaculture and beach tourism,” said Danielsen (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “Given the significant role oceans play in various facets of life in New Jersey, it is fitting for our state to appoint a qualified individual who can supply evidence-based, professional advice to policymakers.”

The new law (A-231) directs the governor to appoint a state oceanographer, who shall provide advice and assistance, when requested, to the governor, the legislature and various departments and agencies of state government on issues involving the ocean.

Like the state geologist, climatologist and forester, the state oceanographer will bring forth independent expert recommendations that can help advance environmental policy in New Jersey, Danielsen said.

The oceanographer, who must be a New Jersey resident and shall serve for a five-year term, also shall serve as a member of the New Jersey Coastal and Ocean Protection Council. The appointed individual would be required to issue an annual report to the governor and the legislature detailing his or her activities over the previous year and developments in the state in ocean observation, research and prediction.

The position is unpaid, but the law entitles the oceanographer to expenses incurred in the performance of the required duties.