This is a publication of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council pursuant to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Award No. NA87FC0003.

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RELEASE: IMMEDIATELY
CONTACT: WAYNE SWINGLE

COUNCIL TO TAKE FINAL ACTION ON AMENDMENTS REGULATING REEF FISH AND MACKERELS

Tampa, Florida - February 13, 1998 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will meet March 9 - 13, 1998 at Hawk’s Cay Resort, Duck Key, Florida. At its meeting the Council will hear public testimony and take final action on Draft Reef Fish Amendment 16, Draft Mackerel Amendment 9, and a proposed control date for recreational-for-hire vessels in reef fish and mackerel fisheries. Public testimony is scheduled on those issues starting at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 10, 1998. Persons who will testify must turn in their registration cards before the start of the testimony period.

Draft Reef Fish Amendment 16 contains the following alternatives:

Draft Mackerel Amendment 9 contains the following alternatives:

The control date for recreational-for-hire vessels (charter and head boats) would serve as notice that such vessels entering the reef fish and mackerel fisheries after that date (fall of 1998) may not be able to participate in the fisheries if the Council were to develop a limited entry system for such vessels.

Tuesday morning beginning at 8:00 a.m. the Mackerel Management Committee will review summaries of comments from public hearings, the recommendations of its advisory panels (AP) and scientific and statistical committees (SSC) and develop recommendations to the Council on the alternatives of Draft Mackerel Amendment 9. That meeting will be followed by the Vessel Monitoring Committee, who will develop a policy on the use of vessel monitoring systems (VMS) on vessels and will hear a report on the use of VMS on vessels off Florida. Beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, the Reef Fish Management Committee will review summaries of public comment from public hearings, the recommendations of the APs and SSCs, and develop recommendations to the Council on the alternatives of Draft Reef Fish Amendment 16. They will also consider the need for a control date for recreational-for-hire vessels and federal actions in approving the TAC for red snapper and need for further Council action. The Habitat Protection Committee will consider a Corps of Engineers permit application for enlargement of the Gulfport, Mississippi harbor facility, beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

Other committees meeting on Monday include the Personnel and Law Enforcement committees. All committee and Council sessions are open to the public, except the Marine Reserves Committee who will select SSC members, and the AP Selection Committee who will consider the user group and geographic representation of the Red Snapper and Reef Fish APs. These closed sessions are scheduled from 10:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m. on Monday, and before the Council on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

Under "Other Business," the Council will consider a provision regulating Ecological Reserves (ER) and Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPA) by allowing vessels legally harvesting fish to transit the Gulf EEZ portion of SPAs and ERs in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

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

The meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to the Council office by March 2, 1998.

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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