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




Tampa, Florida - December 17, 1998 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will meet January 11-15, 1999 at the Isle of Capri Crowne Plaza, 151 Beach Boulevard, Biloxi, Mississippi. At the meeting, the Council will review and take final action on the draft Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA) Amendment and a Gag Regulatory Amendment Options Paper. The SFA Amendment includes alternative management measures for reporting of bycatch by Gulf fishermen, for minimizing bycatch or bycatch mortality, for specifying higher standards for overfishing criteria that will restore fishery stocks to maximum sustainable yield (MSY), for rebuilding periods for overfished stocks (e.g., red snapper, king mackerel, and red drum) and a section identifying communities economically dependent on fishing. The Gag Amendment includes alternatives for specification of a total allowable catch (TAC) for gag; minimum size limit increase for gag and black grouper from 20 to 24 inches total length; a 2-fish recreational bag limit for gag as part of the existing 5 aggregate grouper bag limit; a zero bag limit of gag for the captain and crew of for-hire vessels; a commercial trip limit for gag; a closed season during peak gag spawning; and area closures at gag spawning aggregation locations. Public testimony before the Council on these draft amendments is scheduled to begin at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, January 13, 1999. Persons who will testify must turn in a registration card before the start of the testimony period.

Under other business, the Council may consider proposals for dolphin and wahoo management recently adopted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC). The Council will also hear reports and respond to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) letter.

The Migratory Species Committee will meet beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, January 11, 1999 to review and develop comments on a highly migratory species (HMS) fishery management plan (FMP) and Billfish FMP amendment developed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

On Tuesday, January 12, 1999, the Ad Hoc Sustainable Fisheries Committee will meet beginning at 8:00 a.m. to review the draft SFA amendment. The Committee will develop their recommendations to the Council for final action on the amendment. The recommendations will be considered by the Council on Thursday, January 14, 1999.

The Reef Fish Committee will meet beginning at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday to review the draft Gag Regulatory Amendment Options Paper and develop recommendations to the Council for final action. They will review the Amendment 17 Options Paper which has alternatives for a license limitation program for reef fish. They will also receive a status report on the emergency red snapper rule, and may discuss actions taken under the emergency red snapper rule.

The Shrimp Management Committee will meet beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 13, 1999, to review the analyses of NMFS and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and develop their recommendations to Council on the 1999 Texas Closure. They will also review Amendment 10 Options Paper which contains alternatives for permitting or registration of vessels, observer requirements and protocol, and a vessel monitoring system.

At 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, the Habitat Protection Committee will meet to review a proposed development project for constructing a casino in wetlands and a NMFS study on mitigation.

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 January 4, 1999.

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.