The first new National Marine Sanctuary in many years, which will be the closest one to the nation’s Capitol, took another important step toward final approval last Friday when the final Environmental Impact Statement for the sanctuary was published in the Federal Register.
- The proposed sanctuary in the Chesapeake Bay is expected to be finalized by the end of 2019 and will be the first designated in 19 years.
- The Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary would cover 18 square miles contains a unique and rich legacy that spans American history, from Native American culture to Revolutionary and Civil War era activity to industrial era steamboat transports and historic commercial fishing operations.
- Its most prominent feature is the “Ghost Fleet,” or the remains of more than 200 shipwrecks, including more than 100 wooden steamships built as part of America’s engagement in World War I that are oftentimes emergent above the waterline.
It will be the first National Marine Sanctuary within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and will be jointly administered by NOAA, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and Charles County, Maryland.
- Kris Sarri, president and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, said, “When you visit Mallows Bay and paddle among the remains of an underwater fleet, it transports you back in history, all the while enjoying the abundant wildlife that now calls the shipwrecks home. Mallows Bay is a special place that deserves protection forever.”
Why This Matters: This Saturday is World Ocean Day, and it is often a time when areas like this are set aside for protection. It is more important than ever to preserve ocean habitat for biodiversity and cultural treasures for future generation. This bi-partisan action, that is a partnership between federal, state and local government agencies, is a great success and final designation will be a win for everyone involved.