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 – Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary

Located on the Potomac River only 40 miles from our nation’s capital, Mallows Bay is renowned for its diverse collection of historic shipwrecks, recreational opportunities and scenic beauty. Through a community-based effort, this Maryland treasure in Charles County may become the first national marine sanctuary in the state of Maryland and the first new designation in more than two decades.

Photo collage of Mallows Bay

The Path to Designation

During the June 2014 Capital Hill Oceans Week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (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 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.

On October 5, 2015, the 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 in November 2015 to solicit public comments, concerns, and visions for the proposed sanctuary. Additional comments were submitted online through January 15, 2016.

Throughout 2016, the department participated on an inter-governmental committee that has been vigorously analyzing alternatives and preparing draft designation documents, including a draft management plan, draft environmental impact statement, proposed regulations and proposed boundaries for the sanctuary.

Next Steps

The inter-governmental committee is working to review and consider public comments before submitting documents to NOAA for final designation. If designated, the federal government, State of Maryland and Charles County will manage the sanctuary jointly.

Upon designation, Mallows Bay will join an existing network 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.



Photos clockwise from top left, courtesy of Duke University Marine Robotics & Remote Sensing Program, Jim D'Intino,  Don Shomette , and  Paula Schiller.

Mallows Bay ship wreck in sidebar, courtesy of Jim D'Intino

"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


Click Here to Submit Comments through March 31, 2017

E-Gov Regulations Button links to comment form

Mallows Bay Fact Sheet

Cover of Mallows Bay Fact Sheet

View Mallows Bay Photos

Click Here for More on Mallows Bay

Mallows Bay wreck, photo by Jim D'Intino 

Secrets of the Chesapeake: Mallows Bay

The Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay: The nation’s next National Marine Sanctuary?

Arial of Mallows Bay courtesy of Duke University 

- Winter 2016 Natural Resource Magazine Article

 - A Natural Resource article, Winter 2001