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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CONTACT: WAYNE E. SWINGLE

COUNCIL TO TAKE FINAL ACTION ON AMENDMENT DESCRIBING ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT AND TO CONSIDER SETTING TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH FOR VERMILION SNAPPER AND GAG

Tampa, Florida - August 21, 1998 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will meet September 14 - 17, 1998 at the Adam’s Mark Hotel, 64 South Water Street, Mobile, Alabama. At the meeting, the Council will review and approve an amendment that identifies and describes essential fish habitat (EFH) in the Gulf of Mexico for the seven fisheries managed by the Council. After Council approval, the EFH Amendment will be submitted to National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for implementation. Testimony before the Council on the EFH Amendment is scheduled to begin at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday, September 16, 1998. Persons who will testify must turn in a registration card before the start of the testimony period.

The Council will review stock assessment information on vermilion snapper and gag (commonly called black grouper) and consider setting total allowable catch (TAC) for these stocks. If TAC is set, the Council may specify a commercial quota, size limits, and bag limits for these stocks. Testimony before the Council on these issues is scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 16, 1998.

The Habitat Protection Committee will meet beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Monday to review and approve changes to the EFH Amendment for consideration of the Council on Wednesday. The Reef Fish Committee will meet beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday to consider the stock assessment information on vermilion snapper and gag, as well as the recommendations of the Council’s scientific advisory groups and advisory panel. The recommendations of the Reef Fish Committee will be considered by the Council on Thursday.

On Monday, the Budget Committee will meet beginning at 8:00 a.m. to develop the 1999 Council budget. That afternoon a joint meeting of the Mackerel/Reef Fish/Red Drum Committees will meet to develop recommendations to the Council on definitions of overfishing criteria for all of the finfish stocks that will be included in the Council’s Generic Sustainable Fisheries Act Amendment. That amendment will be presented at public hearings in December 1998 for public comment.

On Tuesday, beginning at 1:00 p.m., a joint meeting of the Reef Fish and Shrimp Committees will be held to review analyses by NMFS on the effectiveness of bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) in reducing bycatch of juvenile red snapper. A meeting of the Shrimp Committee will follow to review a request by NMFS that the Council begin development of Shrimp Amendment 10. Proposed provisions would include requirements for shrimp vessel permits, logbook reporting, observers, and vessel monitoring systems (VMS). If the Council concurs with this request, the amendment would be developed in 1999. The Mackerel Committee will consider a control date for dolphin (fish) and adding wahoo as a stock for management under the fishery management plan (FMP).

As the last order of business, the Council will elect a chairman and vice chairman.

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 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 September 7, 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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