Ten research projects will aim to determine why the ecology of the Barnegat Bay in New Jersey has been gradually deteriorating, according to Bob Martin, commissioner, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Although multiple research projects have been conducted on the bay over the past 20 years, the latest being in May, pressure from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has increased the need to find answers.

Gov. Christie issued a plan in 2010 to help the bay, which included the closing of the Oyster Creek nuclear plant and changes to the composition of fertilizer sold in the state.

Approximately $1.2 million will fund the latest research, which Martin said, “was the most comprehensive scientific analysis ever for the bay.” The research effort will include scientists from Rutgers University Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium, Montclair State University, Rider University, Monmouth University and the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

It is suspected that “the shallow, slow-flushing bay” has increasing nutrient pollution overloads, which cause algae blooms, changing the bay’s ecology.

Although many believe nitrogen pollution is the main culprit for nutrient pollution of the bay, not everyone agrees. “The state’s plan for reducing nutrient pollution to the bay still omits any overt mention of air pollution, the single biggest contributor to nitrogen flowing to the bay,” William deCamp Jr. of the group Save Barnegat Bay, told APP.com.

The results of the research are not expected to be released until 2014.

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