Mallows Bay - Potomac River

For the first time since 2000, NOAA has announced its intent to designate new sanctuaries under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. NOAA is asking for the public’s input on protecting Mallows Bay – Potomac River, a maritime heritage resource area in Maryland.


Mallows Bay – Potomac River is a 14 square mile area of the tidal Potomac River adjacent to Charles County. It was nominated as a national marine sanctuary through the Sanctuary Nomination Process with broad community support.

The area encompasses historic shipwrecks of national significance that merit the additional management authority of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. Nearly 200 known vessels span from the Revolutionary War through the present, and include the remains of the largest “Ghost Fleet” of World War I wooden steamships built for the U.S. Emergency Fleet, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Mallows Bay is a largely undeveloped landscape and waterscape identified as one of the most ecologically valuable in Maryland, as the ship remains provide important habitat for fish and wildlife, including rare, threatened and endangered species.

Public Meetings

Public scoping meetings will be held as detailed below:

La Plata, MD
Date: November 4, 2015
Location: Charles County Government Building Auditorium
Address: 200 Baltimore Street, La Plata, MD
Time: 6:30 – 9:00 pm

Annapolis, MD
Date: November 10, 2015
Location: Annapolis Maritime Museum
Address: 723 Second Street, Annapolis, MD
Time: 6:30 – 9:00 pm


Comments must be received by January 15, 2016. Comments may be submitted by any one of the following methods:

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Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

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Paul Orlando
Regional Coordinator
Northeast and Great Lakes Region
410 Severn Ave
Suite 207-A
Annapolis MD 21403

For more information contact
Paul Orlando
Regional Coordinator
Northeast and Great Lakes

About the Nomination

In September 2014, the state of Maryland submitted a nomination to be added to NOAA’s inventory of places to be considered as national marine sanctuaries. The nomination focused on protecting and interpreting the nationally significant collection of shipwrecks, fostering partnerships with education and research partners, and increasing opportunities for tourism and economic development.

It was endorsed by a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals at local, state, regional and national levels. This included elected officials, Native Americans, historical societies, businesses, museums, and environmental, recreational, conservation, fishing, tourism and educational groups.

NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary System

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as the trustee for a network of 14 marine protected areas encompassing more than 170,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters from Washington state to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. The network includes a system of 13 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Through the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, NOAA can identify, designate and protect areas of the marine and Great Lakes environment that have special national significance.

Through the community-based Sanctuary Nomination Process, Americans can nominate nationally significant marine and Great Lakes areas as potential new national marine sanctuaries. Nominations that successfully complete the process are added to an inventory of areas NOAA may consider for designation.

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