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

NOAA logoNEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: IMMEDIATELY
CONTACT: STEVEN ATRAN

 

REEF FISH STOCK ASSESSMENT PANEL TO REVIEW GREATER AMBERJACK, RED GROUPER, AND VERMILION SNAPPER ASSESSMENT INFORMATION, A DRAFT RED SNAPPER RESTORATION SCENARIO, AND A METHOD FOR DETERMINING MANAGEMENT TARGETS AND THRESHOLDS FOR GROUPERS AND TILEFISH.

Tampa, Florida - August 4, 2000 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene a meeting of the Reef Fish Stock Assessment Panel (RFSAP) to review the following information provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS):

The meeting is scheduled for August 28 - September 1, 2000 at the Miami Laboratory of NMFS, 75 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, Florida 33149. The meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, August 28, 2000 and will conclude by 3:00 p.m. on Friday, September 1, 2000.

Based on its review of the greater amberjack and red grouper stock assessments, and the vermilion snapper assessment update, the RFSAP may recommend a range of allowable biological catch (ABC) for 2001 for each stock, and may recommend management measures to achieve the ABC. In the NMFS October 1999 Report to Congress on the Status of Fisheries of the United States, the greater amberjack stock was classified as not overfished, based on the previous stock assessment in 1996. However, there were concerns that the sampling program had excluded older and larger fish, making the results of that assessment questionable. The red grouper stock was classified as status unknown due to problems discovered with the age and growth data used in the 1993 assessment. A new assessment in 1999, initially reviewed by the RFSAP in the Fall of 1999, indicated that the red grouper stock was overfished. However, the Council’s Standing and Special Reef Fish Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) had a number of concerns about the data and methods used by NMFS. The NMFS response to the SSC concerns will be part of the RFSAP’s reevaluation of the 1999 red grouper assessment. The vermilion snapper stock was classified as not overfished based on a 1998 assessment, but some model scenarios from the assessment suggested that the stock was being fished at a rate that could result in it becoming overfished. It was therefore classified by NMFS as approaching an overfished condition.

The RFSAP will also review a draft red snapper restoration scenario proposed by NMFS, which would allow for a transition from a constant annual catch strategy to a constant fishing mortality rate strategy, and would provide for reevaluation of the stock at five-year intervals. The RFSAP will also review a method developed by NMFS, using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, for determining management targets and thresholds for groupers and tilefish based on the technical guidance recommended by NMFS for compliance with the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996. The resulting RFSAP recommendations will be presented to the Council’s Socioeconomic Panel, Reef Fish Advisory Panel, and SSC, and to the Council at its November 13-16, 2000 meeting in Biloxi, Mississippi.

The RFSAP is composed of biologists who are trained in the specialized field of population dynamics. They advise the Council on the status of stocks and, when necessary, recommend a level of ABC needed to prevent overfishing or to effect a recovery of an overfished stock. They may also recommend catch restrictions needed to attain management goals.

A copy of the agenda for the RFSAP meeting can be obtained by calling 813-228-2815. Although other issues not on the agenda may come before the RFSAP for discussion, in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during this meeting. Actions of the RFSAP will be restricted to those issues specifically identified in the agenda listed as available by this notice.

The RFSAP 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 13, 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, 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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