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 MEETING RESCHEDULED TO REVIEW NEW GAG, VERMILION SNAPPER, AND GRAY TRIGGERFISH STOCK ASSESSMENTS

Tampa, Florida - September 28, 2001 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene a meeting of the Reef Fish Stock Assessment Panel (RFSAP) to review stock assessments on the status of the gag, vermilion snapper, and gray triggerfish stocks in the Gulf of Mexico. This is a rescheduling of a meeting originally set for September 24-28, 2001, but cancelled due to a lack of a quorum. The stock assessments were prepared by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and will be presented to the RFSAP. In the Report to Congress on the Status of Fisheries in the United States prepared by NMFS in January 2001, gag and vermilion snapper were listed as undergoing overfishing and gag was listed as approaching an overfished condition. Gag is a component of the shallow-water grouper complex (which consists of red grouper, gag, yellowfin grouper, black grouper, scamp, yellowmouth grouper, rock hind, and red hind). The status of gray triggerfish was listed as unknown.

The meeting is rescheduled for October 22-26, 2001 at the Miami Laboratory of NMFS, 75 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, Florida 33149. The meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, October 22, 2001 and will conclude by 12:00 noon on Friday, October 26, 2001.

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 acceptable biological catch (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.

Based on its review of the gag, vermilion snapper, and gray triggerfish stock assessments, the RFSAP may recommend a range of ABC for 2002, and may recommend management measures to achieve the ABC.

The conclusions of the RFSAP will be reviewed by the Councilís Standing and Special Reef Fish Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), Socioeconomic Panel (SEP), and Reef Fish Advisory Panel (RFAP) at meetings to be held between November, 2001 and January, 2002. The Council may set year 2002 total allowable catches (TAC) as well as other management measures for the gag component of the shallow-water grouper complex and for vermilion snapper and gray triggerfish at its meeting in Brownsville, Texas on January 21-24, 2002.

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 October 15, 2001.

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 Councilís 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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