The proposal to establish a national marine sanctuary around Mallows Bay dodged a bullet of sorts earlier this week, when the Potomac River Fisheries Commission declined to take a position, despite urging from Maryland and Virginia watermen to oppose any of the options now on the table.
After nearly three hours of discussion and debate, the eight-member panel defeated a motion by one of its members, Maryland waterman Billy Rice, which objected to any sanctuary in the mainstem of the river, where the commission regulates fishing.
Watermen have raised an outcry against the proposal by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to designate the first marine sanctuary in the Chesapeake Bay region. If approved, it would protect the remains of nearly 200 historic ships sunk in the Potomac, the bulk of them a “ghost fleet” of wooden-hulled vessels in Mallows Bay that were built to aid the United States’ entry into World War I a century ago. A few wrecks date back to the Civil and even Revolutionary wars.[Continue Reading]