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



Tampa, Florida - July 13, 1998 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene a meeting of the Reef Fish Stock Assessment Panel (RFSAP) to review stock assessments on the status of gag stocks and vermilion snapper stocks in the Gulf of Mexico. The meeting is scheduled for August 4-6, 1998 at the Miami Laboratory of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), 75 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, Florida 33149. The meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 4, 1998 and will conclude by noon on Thursday, August 6, 1998.

The RFSAP will review the NMFS Gulf of Mexico gag stock assessment that was prepared in October 1997. The RFSAP conducted a preliminary review of this assessment in October 1997, but was unable to complete the review due to insufficient time.

The RFSAP will also review a new Gulf of Mexico vermilion snapper stock assessment by NMFS, and will recommend a range of allowable biological catch (ABC) to prevent overfishing from occurring. Vermilion snapper in the Gulf of Mexico were identified by NMFS in its September 1997 Report to Congress on the Status of Fisheries of the United States as a stock that is approaching an overfished condition. A stock is considered to be approaching an overfished condition if, based on trends in fishing effort, fishery resource size, and other appropriate factors, NMFS estimates that the fishery will become overfished within two years. As a result of this designation, the Council is required to take action within one year to prevent overfishing from occurring in the fishery.

In addition to reviewing the stock assessments, the RFSAP may review overfishing definitions and proxies for maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for gag and vermilion snapper, as required under the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996.

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, when necessary, recommend a level of ABC needed to prevent overfishing or to effect a recovery of an overfished stock. They may also recommend catch restrictions needed to attain management goals.

The conclusions of the RFSAP will be reviewed by the Council’s Standing and Special Reef Fish Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) and by the Reef Fish Advisory Panel (RFAP) at meetings to be held in early September. The Council will set a 1999 vermilion snapper total allowable catch (TAC) and associated management measures at its meeting in Mobile, Alabama on September 14-18, 1998, based on the recommendations of the RFSAP, SSC, and public testimony that will be taken at the Council meeting. The Council may also take action on regulatory changes for gag.

A copy of the agenda for the RFSAP meeting can be obtained by calling 813-228-2815. Although other issues not on the agenda may come before the RFSAP 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 RFSAP will be restricted to those issues specifically identified in the agenda listed as available by this notice.

The RFSAP 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 July 21, 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.

This news release, and other Council news releases, can be viewed at the Council’s web site, In addition, Council press releases may be received via e-mail by sending a blank e-mail message to with SUBSCRIBE as the subject.