This is a publication of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council pursuant to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Award No. NA77FC0001.


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CONTACT: STEVEN ATRAN


REEF FISH STOCK ASSESSMENT PANEL AND SCIENTIFIC AND STATISTICAL COMMITTEE TO RECOMMEND RED SNAPPER ALLOWABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCH RANGE FOR 1998

Tampa, Florida - December 10, 1997 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene a joint meeting of the Reef Fish Stock Assessment Panel (RFSAP) and the Standing and Special Reef Fish Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) to review scientific information on status of red snapper stocks and to recommend a range of allowable biological catch (ABC) for 1998. The meeting is scheduled for January 5-8, 1998 at the Miami Laboratory of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), 75 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, Florida 33149. The meeting will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, January 5, and will conclude by 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 8.

The RFSAP and SSC will review the NMFS Gulf of Mexico red snapper stock assessment that was prepared in October 1997. The RFSAP conducted a preliminary review of this assessment in October, but they were unable to recommend an ABC at that time due to insufficient time to conduct a thorough review. In addition to the NMFS Gulf of Mexico red snapper stock assessment, the RFSAP and SSC will also review the NMFS South Atlantic red snapper stock assessment for comparison to the Gulf of Mexico assessment; an independent Gulf of Mexico red snapper stock assessment by Dr. Brian Rothschild, University of Massachusetts; new information on shrimp trawl bycatch reduction devices; and independent peer group evaluations of the red snapper management process that were compiled for NMFS by the American Fisheries Society.

The RFSAP is composed of biologists who are trained in the specialized field of population dynamics. They advise the Council on the status of stocks and level of ABC. The SSC is composed of biologists, economists, and sociologists who are knowledgeable about the technical aspects of fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. They assess the acceptability of the scientific information and of the ABC recommendation. The SSC may also recommend a specific level of total allowable catch (TAC) from within the ABC range, and management measures needed to implement the TAC, in particular, management measures that may prevent a recreational quota closure in 1998.

The Council will set the 1998 red snapper TAC and associated management measures at its meeting in Point Clear, Alabama on January 19-23, 1998, based on the recommendations of the RFSAP, SSC, and public testimony that will be taken at the Council meeting.

A copy of the agenda can be obtained by calling 813-228-2815. Although other issues not on the agenda may come before the joint RFSAP/SSC for discussion, in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during this meeting. Actions of the joint RFSAP/SSC will be restricted to those issues specifically identified in the agenda listed as available by this notice.

The joint RFSAP/SSC meeting is open to the public and is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to the Council office by December 29, 1997.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is 1 of 8 regional fishery management councils that were established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council prepares fishery management plans that are designed to manage fishery resources in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

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