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

NOAA logoNEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: IMMEDIATELY
CONTACT: WAYNE E. SWINGLE (813) 228-2815

COUNCIL TO SET TAC FOR MACKEREL STOCKS AND TAKE FURTHER ACTION ON AMENDMENTS REGULATING REEF FISH AND MACKERELS

Tampa, Florida - April 17, 1998 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will meet May 11 - 15, 1998 at the Sandestin Beach Hilton, Sandestin, Florida. At its meeting the Council will hear additional public testimony on Draft Reef Fish Amendment 16B, Draft Mackerel Amendment 9, and total allowable catch (TAC) for mackerels. The Council may also adopt other management measures for mackerels in the 1998-99 fishing year as included in the framework procedure for setting TAC. Additional measures could include size limits, bag limits, trip limits, etc. Public testimony is scheduled on these issues starting at 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday, May 13, 1998. Persons who will testify must turn in their registration cards before the start of the testimony period. Written comments should be received in the Council office no later than Friday, May 1, 1998.

Draft Reef Fish Amendment 16B contains the following alternatives:

Draft Mackerel Amendment 9 contains the following alternatives:

On Tuesday morning beginning at 8:00 a.m. the Mackerel Management Committee will review reports of the Mackerel Stock Assessment Panel (MSAP) and Socioeconomic Panel (SEP) along with recommendations of the Mackerel Advisory Panel (AP) and Scientific Statistical Committee (SSC) regarding TAC for king and Spanish mackerel during the 1998-99 fishing season. The Committee will then develop recommendations to the Council on TAC and possibly other framework measures. The Mackerel Management Committee will also discuss possible management of dolphin and wahoo. Beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, the Reef Fish Management Committee will review summaries of public comments from public hearings, the recommendations of the APs and SSCs, and develop recommendations to the Council on the alternatives of Draft Reef Fish Amendment 16B. They will also consider federal actions regarding the TAC for red snapper and any need for further Council action, as well as the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) news release on TAC for red snapper. The Shrimp Management Committee will also review this issue beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Other committees meeting on Monday include the AP Selection Committee, Ad Hoc Marine Reserves Committee, and Habitat Protection Committee. All committee and Council sessions are open to the public, except the Marine Reserves Committee that will select SSC members, and the AP Selection Committee that will consider the user group and geographic representation of the Reef Fish AP. These closed sessions are scheduled from 8:00 a.m. to approximately 10:00 a.m. on Monday, and before the Council on Wednesday from 5:00 p.m to 5:30 p.m. The Habitat Protection Committee will meet beginning at 1:00 p.m. to review a preliminary draft of the Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) Generic Amendment and to consider a Corps of Engineers permit application for enlargement of the Gulfport, Mississippi harbor facility.

During the Council session on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, the Council will hear presentations regarding the Barataria/Terrebonne Estuary Program and NMFS’ FMP Review and Approval Process followed by reports on the Billfish/Highly Migratory Species APs meeting, the ICCAT Advisory Committee meeting, and reports by enforcement and the state directors. Under "Other Business," the Council will consider state regulation of the line of separation for the Stone Crab/Shrimp Fisheries for southwest Florida.

Following the Council meeting on Friday, a workshop will be held with members of the Gulf Council, South Atlantic Council, and Florida Marine Fisheries Commission regarding management of mackerels, but particularly focusing on issues related to recreational sales, minimum size limits, and sale of cut-off (damaged) king and Spanish mackerel.

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 May 4, 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.

X X X