This is a publication of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council pursuant to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Award No. NA97FC0010.

(813) 228-2815



Tampa, Florida - June 18, 1999 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) at its July 12-15, 1999 meeting at the Pier House hotel in Key West, Florida, will hear public testimony and take final action to approve amendments for regulation of gag and black grouper, and to extend the moratorium on issuance of additional commercial vessel permits for king mackerel and reef fish. The regulatory amendment for gag and black grouper includes preferred management measures to increase the size limits for gag and black grouper to 24 inches total length (TL) for the commercial sector and 22 inches TL for the recreational sector, and to create a 423 square nautical mile marine reserve on a gag spawning aggregation site that would be closed to all bottom fishing. This amendment also includes alternatives considered, but not selected as preferred alternatives, for setting a total allowable catch (TAC) for gag, implementing a more restrictive bag limit for gag, providing a commercial trip limit for gag, closing the fishery during all or part of the gag spawning season, and other alternative aggregation sites for the marine area closure. Testimony on these issues before the Council will begin at 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday July 14, 1999. Persons who will testify must turn in a registration card before the start of the testimony period.

The Reef Fish Management Committee will meet on Tuesday beginning at 8:00 a.m. to develop its recommendations to the Council on Reef Fish Amendment 17 and the Gag Regulatory Amendment. The Committee will also determine whether to recommend that Council staff begin development of a resubmission document to readdress the portion of Reef Fish Amendment 16A that was disapproved by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). That portion would have phased out the fish trap fishery in the Florida Keys by February 7, 2001. The Committee will also hear a report projecting when the 1999 recreational red snapper season will be closed, and hear updates on the pending approval of the regulatory amendment and emergency rules for red snapper.

On Tuesday afternoon Council members will take a field trip on a U.S. Coast Guard cutter to examine enforcement procedures.

The Mackerel Management Committee will meet beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday to develop its recommendations to the Council on Mackerel Amendment 12. At 9:00 a.m., the Shrimp Management Committee will hear a NMFS report on the Tortugas Shrimp fishery and annual reports assessing the status of the shrimp stocks. The Committee will also discuss workshop(s) to assess the impacts of shrimp trawl bycatch in the eastern Gulf, which will be held in late Summer or Fall. Other Committee meetings on Wednesday morning include Data Collection and Administrative Policy.

On Monday at 11:00 a.m. the Marine Reserves Committee will hear a report of the Tortugas 2000 working group that was charged with developing plans for marine reserves in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. On Monday afternoon beginning at 1:00 p.m., the Law Enforcement Committee will hearreports on enforcement and non-compliance issues related to the red snapper fishery, the Tortugas Shrimp Sanctuary, the Southwest Florida seasonal shrimp closure, the Florida Middle Grounds Habitat Area of Particular Concern (HAPC), the Eastern Gulf long-line closed area, and implementation of Reef Fish Amendment 16A.

All of the sessions of the Council are open to the public except the AP Selection and Marine Reserves committees on Monday morning that will select members for an advisory panel and potentially approve a contractual agreement for a facilitator, respectively. The Council session will be closed from 5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday to discuss these issues.

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. A copy of the Committee schedule and agenda can be obtained by calling (813) 228-2815.

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 July 2, 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.