This is a publication of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council pursuant to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Award No. NA07FC0015.

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RELEASE: AS APPROPRIATE
CONTACT: WAYNE E. SWINGLE
(813) 228-2815

SCIENTIFIC AND STATISTICAL COMMITTEES TO REVIEW STONE CRAB AMENDMENT AND PROPOSED MARINE RESERVE

Tampa, Florida - May 26, 2000 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene its Standing and Special Stone Crab Scientific and Statistical Committees (SSC) to review an amendment to the Stone Crab Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The SSCs will be convened at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 21, 2000 and will conclude by 3:00 p.m. The Standing SSC will also review a proposed amendment for a marine reserve during this meeting. The meeting will be held at the Pier House, 1 Duval Street, Key West, Florida 33040.

The Stone Crab amendment proposes to extend the trap certificate program for the commercial stone crab fishery adopted by the state of Florida into the federal waters off west Florida. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC), after working with the stone crab industry and the Council over the past 4 years, has adopted by rule a trap certificate program that will gradually reduce the number of traps over a 30-year period. The Florida legislature has approved the portion of this program pertaining to licenses and fees. Based on this review, the SSC may make recommendations to the Council for consideration at their meeting in Key Largo, July 10-14, 2000.

At the conclusion of the Stone Crab SSC meeting, the Standing SSC will also review an amendment for a Generic Amendment Addressing the Establishment of Tortugas Marine Reserves, which proposes to establish the Tortugas South marine reserve that will encompass the Riley’s Hump mutton snapper spawning aggregation site established by the Council in 1994. The total area of the proposed Tortugas South marine reserve is 60 square nautical miles. The amendment also proposes to create the Tortugas North marine reserve cooperatively with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) program, the state of Florida, and the National Park system, which will encompass an area of 120 square nautical miles. The portion proposed to be established by the Council is 13 square nautical miles. The Council proposes that marine reserves be established for a period of at least 10 years, during which the ecological benefits of the reserve will be evaluated. The Council also proposes that fishing and anchoring be prohibited within the marine reserves.

Copies of the agendas of these meetings and other related materials can be obtained by calling 813-228-2815. Although other non-emergency issues not on the agendas may come before the SSC for discussion, in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during these meetings. Actions of SSC will be restricted to those issues specifically identified in the agendas and any issues arising after publicationof this notice that require emergency action under Section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, provided the public has been notified of the Council's intent to take action to address the emergency.

The meetings are open to the public and physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to the Council office by June 7, 2000.

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 Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

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

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