Management Plan & Designation Documentation

An osprey tends to its nest on a ship

The sanctuary management plan sets priorities to guide sanctuary programs and operations to conserve and promote its maritime historic and cultural resources. This plan was co-developed with the state of Maryland and Charles County, Maryland, as the sanctuary co-managers. It reflects input gathered from resource users, stakeholders, interest groups, government agencies, and other members of the public. It provides the framework for public engagement and assists the Sanctuary Advisory Council in their role to offer advice to NOAA related to current and future management opportunities.

Five Action Plans

The management plan comprises five action plans: Resource Protection; Recreation and Tourism; Education; Research, Science, and Technology; and Sanctuary Operations and Administration. Each action plan provides background information on resource management issues and an overview of the direction the sanctuary will take to address management needs.

Resource Protection

This action plan strengthens protection of the historic shipwrecks, assets related to shipbreaking of the WWI-era vessels, other significant maritime cultural features of the area, and the natural resources related to the structures provided by the historic shipwrecks.

Recreation and Tourism

This action plan enhances tourism and recreational opportunities through safe and responsible public uses that are compatible with sanctuary objectives for resource protection.


This action plan builds and enhances public understanding and stewardship of the sanctuary, its maritime resources, and the greater Chesapeake watershed, through partnerships with formal and informal education providers and institutions, distance and other web-based learning, and specific educational programs and initiatives.

Research, Science, and Technology

This action plan outlines priorities for science, technology development, and research and monitoring to meet the management objectives for the sanctuary. It establishes the framework to encourage and integrate a broad range of archaeological and interdisciplinary research by sanctuary partners.

Sanctuary Operations and Administration

This action plan identifies sanctuary infrastructure, staffing, and program support needed for effective implementation of the final management plan.

Sanctuary Management and Community Partnerships

While Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary is managed by NOAA, the sanctuary relies heavily on the work of others to help carry out its mission. NOAA works in full cooperation with the state of Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Historical Trust, as well as with Charles County, Maryland, in their role as trustees for state of Maryland resources. In addition, partnerships with private businesses, nongovernmental organizations, educational and cultural institutions, and other local, state, and federal agencies provide expertise for scientific research and exploration, resources and capacities for site monitoring and enforcement, and support for education and outreach programs. The many partnerships developed over the course of this nomination and designation process have been, and will continue to be, critical to the success of the sanctuary.