Delineation of Area of Interest:
The NJDEP used data collected during its Ocean/Wind Power Ecological Baseline Studies to develop an Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) to serve as a guide in identify areas of sensitivity within the study area based on features ranging from physical obstructions and usages to the presence and density of biological resources including avian populations and aquatic habitat. The attached Map Number 2: Areas of Sensitivity and Avoidance Zones within NJ Baseline Ecological Study Area delineates the portion of the study area that should not be considered for development due to the presence and number of cumulative features (categories/features in order of priority are listed below). The development of these "Avoidance Zones" may have greater adverse impacts to the physical and ecological integrity and existing usage of this area. It is important to note that this map is meant to serve as a guide only, and may best illustrate where the most environmentally sensitive and conflicting use areas are anticipated based on information currently available to the Department..
The areas identified with the Baseline Ecological Study Area for avoidance are as follows:
Northern portion of the study area which includes a major shipping lane and additional telecommunications cables. High bird densities are also present in this area due to a number of shoals and artificial underwater features, which have shown to be positively correlated with avian populations. Southernmost section of the study area where a large number of shoals and biological resources are concentrated (e.g. birds, marine mammals, sea turtles), including Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Essential Fish Habitat (EFH), which increases the areas sensitivity to development. State Boundary to 7 NM Line - The study also identified that avian density (sitting and feeding) markedly decreased moving from inshore to offshore, with a steep decline observed at approximately 7 NM. Thus, the area bounded by the state boundary to the 7 NM limit is also included in the avoidance area due to high avian densities, as well as for the numerous shipwrecks, reefs, and shoals that tend to also occur in this zone, in addition to higher human activity from recreational and commercial vessels (e.g. the Tug Barge Transit Route roughly follows this 7 NM line).
Categories and Description of Environmentally Sensitive Areas:
The following categories describe the rationale for determining environmentally sensitive areas. The categories are in order of priority. The areas recommended to be removed from consideration for the RFI were primarily based on the first four categories.
No Build Areas (i.e. Shipping lanes, traffic separation zones, pipelines and cables, artificial reefs, and shipwrecks) - Development should be excluded in blocks containing some of these features (e.g., shipping lanes) since they would directly and adversely affect shipping. Buffer areas may also be required to avoid impacts. Shoals - Should be avoided since they function as feeding grounds and nurseries for various pelagic and bottom-dwelling species, as well as serve as fishing/feeding hotspots for recreational and commercial fishermen, birds, sea turtles and marine mammals. High Avian Densities - Mostly concentrated within state waters along the coast, however some hotspots found offshore, usually associated with shoals or other unique bottom features and/or oceanographic dynamics. Development should be avoided in these areas since adverse affects may be incurred due to the greater potential for in flight mortality due to collisions with wind turbines, avoidance behaviors caused by the disturbance/presence of turbines and disturbance of bottom features. Distance from Shore - the results of the OWPEBS found that birds, certain marine mammals and other resources were found in higher densities closer to shore. As stated above, bird activity begins to decrease beyond 7 NM from the coast. Therefore, environmental impacts would generally be expected to be reduced with increasing distance from the shoreline. Fishing hotspots - Although usually associated with shoals, other natural and artificial bottom features can contribute to their productivity, thus should be avoided when possible. Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles - As shown in the OWPEBS, marine mammal and sea turtles densities are roughly evenly distributed throughout the study area, and low in number (with the exception of dolphins). However, marine mammal and sea turtle densities are often found to be higher near underwater features such as shoals and ridges. Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) - EFHs, although not well defined in the study area, do occur for numerous fish species, and are known to use the area during all or some life stages. In some cases, EFHs in the Study Area overlap (especially in the South), increasing impact potential.
The objective of this study is to conduct baseline studies in waters off New Jersey's coast to determine the current distribution and usage of this area by ecological resources. The scope of work includes the collection of data on the distribution, abundance and migratory patterns of avian, marine mammal, sea turtle and other species in the study area over an 24-month period.
Users of the data agree to abide by the terms and conditions of the following:
I. The data provided herein are distributed subject to the following conditions and restrictions:
For all data contained herein, (NJDEP) makes no representations of any kind, including, but not limited to, the warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular use, nor are any such warranties to be implied with respect to the digital data layers furnished hereunder. NJDEP assumes no responsibility to maintain them in any manner or form.
II. Terms of Agreement
1. Digital data received from the NJDEP are to be used solely for internal purposes in the conduct of daily affairs.
2. The data are provided, as is, without warranty of any kind and the user is responsible for understanding the accuracy limitations of all digital data layers provided herein, as documented in the accompanying metadata. Any reproduction or manipulation of the above data must ensure that the coordinate reference system remains intact.
3. Digital data received from the NJDEP may not be reproduced or redistributed for use by anyone without first obtaining written permission from the NJDEP. This clause is not intended to restrict distribution of printed mapped information produced from the digital data.
4. Any maps, publications, reports, or other documents produced as a result of this project that utilize NJDEP digital data will credit the NJDEP's Geographic Information System (GIS) as the source of the data with the following credit/disclaimer: ""This (map/publication/report) was developed using New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Geographic Information System digital data, but this secondary product has not been verified by NJDEP and is not state-authorized.""
5. Users shall require any independent contractor, hired to undertake work that will utilize digital data obtained from the NJDEP, to agree not to use, reproduce, or redistribute NJDEP GIS data for any purpose other than the specified contractual work. All copies of NJDEP GIS data utilized by an independent contractor will be required to be returned to the original user at the close of such contractual work. Users hereby agree to abide by the use and reproduction conditions specified above and agree to hold any independent contractor to the same terms. By using data provided herein, the user acknowledges that terms and conditions have been read and that the user is bound by these criteria.
Note: Some older NJDEP data may not contain .prj files due to distribution procedures at that time. If download does not contain a .prj, please download from:
Please rename .prj to the name of the downloadable filename. (for example: If Head of Tides filename is HOT.shp, please rename .prj to HOT.prj). This allows ESRI software to recognize the projection information.