Contact Information

Chesapeake & Coastal Service
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Tawes State Office Building, E2
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Phone: 410-260-8912
Fax: 410-260-8739


Kelly Collins

Mallows Bay Partners - Steering Committee Logos

Mallows Bay National Marine Sanctuary Nomination

Maryland partners working to protect the "Ghost Fleet" of Mallows Bay

Status of the Nomination

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. On September 16, 2014, Maryland submitted a nomination to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommending consideration of Mallows Bay as the newest National Marine Sanctuary - drawing attention again to this unique place in the Potomac River.

Mallows Bay ghost ship by Jim D'Intino

Through a network of partners – including the Department of Natural Resources Chesapeake and Coastal Service, Charles County, and several others – the nomination was submitted with more than 60 letters of support from the community. Click here to view the full nomination.

On January 12, 2015, after an initial review period, NOAA moved the nomination into the inventory of areas being considered for designation. Before any official designation, there will first be a separate highly public review process public review process that may take several years to complete. This process is designed to take into account input from various local, regional and national interests and organizations. As of August 2015, NOAA has not yet initiated that public review. Any future announcement by NOAA will kickstart a series of informational meetings that will allow open discussion about the National Marine Sanctuary process and what the designation could mean for the Mallows Bay area. Stay tuned to this website for updates on when those public meetings may occur.

Great Blue Heron on Mallows Bay by Paula Schiller

Mallows Bay is well-positioned to be one of the first new National Marine Sanctuaries in over 20 years, and if designated, the first within Maryland state waters, and the first in the Chesapeake Bay region. Sanctuary designation represents the finest in marine resource protection and proactive public engagement. Bringing this to the Chesapeake region focuses national attention and provides a new catalyst for conservation, education, public access and tourism.

About the National Marine Sanctuary System

This nomination was created after NOAA announced on June 13, 2014 that the American public could again, after more than 20 years, nominate nationally significant marine and Great Lakes areas as potential new national marine sanctuaries.

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.

Public Participation – How You Can Help

Pontoon boat alongside Mallows Bay ghost ship by Mitch Zeissler

This new nomination process encourages community-based partnerships to build support for an area of national significance. 

Members of the public, non-profit organizations, schools, small businesses, and others are encouraged to participate in these public meetings as they occur. All upcoming public meetings will be posted on this website as soon as dates are finalized.

Acknowledgements: Photos courtesy of Jim D'Intino, Paula Schiller, and Mitch Zeissler.

"We 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

Mallows Bay Fact Sheet

Secrets of the Chesapeake

 - A Natural Resource article, Winter 2001