Chesapeake & Coastal Service
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Tawes State Office Building, E2
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
On October 5, 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a Notice of Intent to consider the designation of Mallows Bay in the Potomac River as a National Marine Sanctuary. NOAA held two public meetings to solicit public comments, concerns, and visions for the proposed sanctuary. The meetings were held in La Plata, MD on November 4, 2015 and Annapolis, MD on November 10, 2015 and additional comments were submitted online through January 15, 2016 via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. NOAA is now in the process of reviewing the comments and creating a draft Environmental Impact Statement and draft Management Plan for the proposed sanctuary.
During the June 2014 Capital Hill Oceans Week, NOAA announced that the American public could again, for the first time since 2000, nominate nationally significant marine and Great Lakes areas as potential new national marine sanctuaries. For years, Maryland, Charles County and local communities and organizations have recognized Mallows Bay for its unique ecosystems, abundant recreational opportunities, and historic national significance. Acting to enrich this unique maritime heritage resource in Charles County, a community-based nomination effort kicked-off.
On September 16, 2014, the State of Maryland, along with over 60 supporting organizations, submitted a nomination to NOAA recommending consideration of Mallows Bay-Potomac River as the newest National Marine Sanctuary. For more information about the historical and ecological significance of Mallows Bay, click here.
Mallows Bay is well-positioned to be one of the first new National Marine Sanctuaries in over 15 years, and if designated, the first within Maryland state waters, and the first in the Chesapeake Bay region.
The Notice of Intent issued by NOAA October 2015 was the start of a full public procedure and Environmental Impact Statement concerning the designation of Mallows Bay as a new national marine sanctuary.
From start to finish the designation process could take up to two years to complete. The first step was the public meetings that were held in November 2015 that allowed open discussion about the National Marine Sanctuary process and what the designation could mean for the State of Maryland.
The National Marine Sanctuary System was established in 1972 to recognize and promote the conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, research or aesthetic values of special areas of the marine environment. Sanctuaries are managed to protect and conserve their resources and to allow uses that are compatible with resource protection. The existing network is comprised of 14 sites from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Atlantic coast through the far-Pacific. Click here for National Marine Sanctuary FAQs.
Acknowledgements: Photos courtesy of Jim D'Intino, Don Shomette, and Paula Schiller.
believe that the designation of this section of the Potomac River as a
National Marine Sanctuary offers a tremendous opportunity to not only
promote world-class recreational fishing, boating, and tourism, but to
also advance our efforts to protect and restore the Chesapeake watershed
and to educate the public about our nation’s maritime and cultural
history.” – Secretary Mark Belton, Department of Natural Resources
580 Taylor Ave, Annapolis MD 21401