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Title 15Subtitle BChapter IXSubchapter BPart 922Subpart S → Appendix

Title 15: Commerce and Foreign Trade
Subpart S—Mallows Bay—Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary

Appendix B to Subpart S of Part 922—Mallows Bay-Potomac River Marine Sanctuary Terms of Designation

Terms of Designation for the Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary

Under the authority of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, as amended (the “Act” or “NMSA”), 16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq., certain waters and submerged lands located off the Nanjemoy Peninsula of Charles County, Maryland, and along the tidal Potomac River and its surrounding waters are hereby designated as a National Marine Sanctuary for the purposes of providing long-term protection and management of the historical resources and recreational, research, educational, and aesthetic qualities of the area.

Article I: Effect of Designation

The NMSA authorizes the issuance of such regulations as are necessary and reasonable to implement the designation, including managing and protecting the historical resources and recreational, research, and educational qualities of the Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary (the “Sanctuary”). Section 1 of Article IV of this appendix lists those activities that may have to be regulated on the effective date of designation, or at some later date, in order to protect Sanctuary resources and qualities. Listing an activity does not necessarily mean that it will be regulated; however, if an activity is not listed it may not be regulated, except on an emergency basis, unless Section 1 of Article IV is amended by the same procedures by which the original Sanctuary designation was made.

Article II: Description of the Area

The Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary consists of an area of approximately 18 square miles of waters of the State of Maryland and the submerged lands thereunder, over, around, and under the underwater cultural resources in the Potomac River between Stafford County, Virginia, and Charles County, Maryland. The western boundary of the sanctuary approximates the border between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of Maryland for roughly 6 miles along the Potomac River, beginning north of the mouth of Aquia Creek in Stafford County, Virginia, near Brent Point and continuing north past Widewater, VA, and Clifton Point to a point north of Tank Creek. From this point the sanctuary boundary crosses the Potomac to the east until it intersects the Maryland shoreline just north of Sandy Point in Charles County, MD. From this point the eastern boundary of the sanctuary, approximately 8 miles in total length, follows the Maryland shoreline south past Mallows Bay, Blue Banks, and Wades Bay to a point just south of Smith Point. From this location the sanctuary boundary crosses the Potomac River to the west back to its point of origin north of the mouth of Aquia Creek near Brent Point on the Virginia side of the river.

Article III: Special Characteristics of the Area

Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary and its surrounding waters contain a diverse collection more than 100 known historic shipwreck vessels dating back to the Civil War and potentially dating back to the Revolutionary War, as well as archaeological artifacts dating back 12,000 years indicating the presence of some of the region's earliest American Indian cultures, including the Piscataway Indian Nation and the Piscataway Conoy Confederacy and Sub-Tribes of Maryland. The area is most renowned for the remains of over 100 wooden steamships, known as the “Ghost Fleet,” that were built for the U.S. Emergency Fleet between 1917-1919 as part of U.S. engagement in WWI. Their construction at more than 40 shipyards in 17 states reflects the massive national wartime effort that drove the expansion and economic development of communities and related maritime service industries including the present-day Merchant Marines. The area is contiguous to the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, the Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and the Lower Potomac Water Trail which offer meaningful educational and recreational opportunities centered on the region's culture, heritage and history. Additionally, the structure provided by the vessels and related infrastructure serve as important habitat to thriving populations of recreational fisheries, bald eagles, and other aquatic species. The area's listing on the National Historical Register of Places in 2015 codifies the historical, archaeological and recreational significance of the Ghost Fleet and related maritime cultural heritage sites in and around Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary.

Article IV: Scope of Regulations

Section 1. Activities Subject to Regulation. The following activities are subject to regulation, including prohibition, to the extent necessary and reasonable to ensure the protection and management of the historical resources and recreational, research and educational qualities of the area:

a. Moving, removing, recovering, altering, destroying, possessing, or otherwise injuring, or attempting to move, remove, recover, alter, destroy, possess or otherwise injure a Sanctuary resource, except as an incidental result of traditional fishing (as defined in the regulations).

b. Marking, defacing, or damaging in any way, or displacing or removing or tampering with any signs, notices, or placards, whether temporary or permanent, or with any monuments, stakes, posts, buoys, or other boundary markers related to the Sanctuary.

c. Interfering with, obstructing, delaying or preventing an investigation, search, seizure or disposition of seized property in connection with enforcement of the Act or any regulation issued under the Act.

Section 2. NOAA will not exercise its authority under the NMSA to regulate fishing in the Sanctuary.

Section 3. Emergencies. Where necessary to prevent or minimize the destruction of, loss of, or injury to a Sanctuary resource; or minimize the imminent risk of such destruction, loss, or injury, any activity, including those not listed in Section 1, is subject to immediate temporary regulation. An emergency regulation shall not take effect without the approval of the Governor of Maryland or her/his designee or designated agency.

Article V: Relation to Other Regulatory Program

Section 1. Fishing Regulations, Licenses, and Permits. Fishing in the Sanctuary shall not be regulated as part of the Sanctuary management regime authorized by the Act. However, fishing in the Sanctuary may be regulated by other Federal, State, Tribal and local authorities of competent jurisdiction, and designation of the Sanctuary shall have no effect on any regulation, permit, or license issued thereunder.

Section 2. Other Regulations, Licenses, and Permits. If any valid regulation issued by any federal, state, Tribal, or local authority of competent jurisdiction, regardless of when issued, conflicts with a Sanctuary regulation, the regulation deemed by the Director of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or designee, in consultation with the State of Maryland, to be more protective of Sanctuary resources and qualities shall govern. Pursuant to section 304(c)(1) of the Act, 16 U.S.C. 1434(c)(1), no valid lease, permit, license, approval, or other authorization issued by any federal, state, Tribal, or local authority of competent jurisdiction, or any right of subsistence use or access, may be terminated by the Secretary of Commerce, or designee, as a result of this designation, or as a result of any Sanctuary regulation, if such lease, permit, license, approval, or other authorization, or right of subsistence use or access was issued or in existence as of the effective date of this designation. However, the Secretary of Commerce or designee, in consultation with the State of Maryland, may regulate the exercise of such authorization or right consistent with the purposes for which the Sanctuary is designated.

Section 3. Department of Defense Activities. DoD activities shall be carried out in a manner that avoids to the maximum extent practicable any adverse impacts on sanctuary resources and qualities. Any existing military activity conducted by DoD prior to the effective date of the regulations in this subpart and as specifically identified in the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Final Management Plan for the Sanctuary (FEIS/FMP) is allowed to continue in the Sanctuary. The prohibitions in §922.203(a)(1) through (3) do not apply to those existing military activities listed in the FEIS/FMP or the military activities conducted by DoD listed in §922.203(c)(2). New military activities that do not violate the prohibitions in paragraphs (a)(1) through (3) of this section are allowed. Any new military activity that is likely to violate sanctuary prohibitions may become exempt through consultation between the Director and DoD pursuant to section 304(d) of the NMSA. The term “new military activity” includes but is not limited to, any existing military activity that is modified in any way (including change in location, frequency, duration, or technology used) that is likely to destroy, cause the loss of, or injure a sanctuary resource, or is likely to destroy, cause the loss of, or injure a sanctuary resource in a manner or to an extent that was not considered in a previous consultation under section 304(d) of the NMSA. In the event of destruction of, loss of, or injury to a sanctuary resource or quality resulting from an incident, including but not limited to spills and groundings caused by DoD, the cognizant component shall promptly coordinate with the Director for the purpose of taking appropriate actions to prevent, respond to or mitigate the harm and, if possible, restore or replace the sanctuary resource or quality.

Article VI. Alteration of This Designation

The terms of designation may be modified only by the same procedures by which the original designation is made, including public meetings, consultation according to the NMSA.

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