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

COUNCIL TO TAKE FINAL ACTION ON STONE CRAB AMENDMENT AND TORTUGAS 2000 MARINE RESERVES AMENDMENT

Tampa, Florida - June 16, 2000 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold its July 10-13, 2000 meeting at the Westin Beach Resort, 97000 South Overseas Highway, Key Largo, Florida. At this meeting, the Council will hear public testimony on Stone Crab Amendment 7, Resubmission of the Section on Bycatch Reporting in the Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA) Amendment, and the Generic Amendment Addressing Establishment of the Tortugas 2000 Marine Reserve beginning at 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, July 12. If necessary, public testimony will continue on Thursday, July 13 at 8:30 a.m. Persons who will testify must turn in a registration card before the start of the testimony period on Wednesday.

The Stone Crab Management Committee will meet on Monday beginning at 9:30 a.m. to discuss Stone Crab Amendment 7. 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. The committee will make recommendations for the full Council to take final action on Thursday morning.

The Shrimp Management Committee will meet at 1:00 p.m. to review an options paper for an amendment to require vessel and operator permits, and receive a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) report on the status of the shrimp stocks. The Sustainable Fisheries Committee will meet at 3:30 p.m. to discuss resubmission of the SFA Amendment Bycatch Reporting Measures. The Budget Committee will meet at 4:30 p.m. to review the status of the CY2000 budget and CY1999 budget extension.

The Reef Fish Management Committee will meet on Tuesday beginning at 8:00 a.m. to receive a report on the status of the jewfish stock, to review and discuss red snapper and grouper stock restoration scenarios, and to select stock assessments to be completed by the NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) in FY 2001. There will be a meeting of the Joint Marine Reserves/Reef Fish Management Committees beginning at 1:30 p.m. to discuss 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 Committees’ recommendations on this amendment will be considered by the full Council on Thursday morning.

The Habitat Protection Committee will meet at 3:30 p.m. to hear a presentation on the Williams Gas Pipeline Project and the Gulfstream Gas Pipeline Project.

The Mackerel Management Committee will meet on Wednesday, June 12 at 9:00 a.m. to approve a letter to the states and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) on the sale of fish, and to approve the Dolphin/Wahoo Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for public hearings.

The Council will consider the committee reports and other reports of meetings and activities on Thursday.

Although non-emergency issues not contained in the agenda may come before the Council for discussion, in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA), 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 this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under Section 305 (c) of the MSFCMA, provided the public has been notified of the Council’s intent to take final action to address the emergency. 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 3, 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 U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

This news release, and other Council news releases, can be viewed at the Council’s web site at 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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