This is a publication of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council pursuant to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Award No. NA17FC1052.

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CONTACT: WAYNE E. SWINGLE

COUNCIL TO SET THE BOUNDARY FOR THE TEXAS SHRIMP CLOSURE FOR 2002; CONSIDER OVERFISHING AND OVERFISHED CRITERIA FOR MACKERELS AND COBIA; AND MAY SET TAC FOR GAG, VERMILION SNAPPER, AND GRAY TRIGGERFISH

Tampa, Florida - December 26, 2001 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold its January 21-24, 2002 meeting at the Holiday Inn Fort Brown, 1900 East Elizabeth Street, Brownsville, Texas and will take public testimony on the Texas closure, overfishing and overfished criteria for mackerel and cobia, and total allowable catch (TAC) recommendations for gag grouper, vermillion snapper, and gray triggerfish. Although the Council will hear public testimony on TAC for these three stocks, final action on gag will not be taken until the March Council meeting in Mobile, Alabama or the May Council meeting in Destin, Florida. Final action on gray triggerfish will be taken at the March Council meeting in Mobile, Alabama. Public testimony on these issues is scheduled from 8:45 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Wednesday, January 23, 2002. Persons testifying must register before the start of the testimony period.

The meeting will begin on Monday morning with the Mackerel Management Committee meeting from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. to develop recommendations for mackerel and cobia status determination criteria. The full Council will consider these recommendations on Thursday morning. The Shrimp Management Committee will meet from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to hear a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) report on the Texas closure analyses and make recommendation for the full Council for discussion on Thursday morning.

The Reef Fish Management Committee will meet on Monday afternoon from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to review a draft regulatory amendment containing alternatives for rebuilding of the red grouper stock and to hear the TAC recommendations of the scientific panels and Reef Fish AP for gag, vermillion snapper, and gray triggerfish. The committee will also discuss development of a red snapper individual transferable quota (ITQ) protocol. The Reef Fish Management Committee will continue on Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. if necessary. The full Council will consider these recommendations on Wednesday afternoon.

The Deep-Water Crab Management Committee will meet from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning to discuss an options paper for the development of a Deep-water Crab Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The species that would be managed under the Deep-water Crab FMP will be the golden crab (Chaceon fenneri) and red crab (Chaceon quinquedens). The preliminary issues and options paper for the development of a Deep-water Crab FMP examines fisheries issues including management needs, gear requirements and restrictions, crab size and sex limitations for harvest, and requirements for fishery participants.

The Administrative Policy Committee will meet from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. will discuss congressional bills entitled the "Fishery Recovery Act" and "Freedom to Fish Act." The committee recommendations will be considered by the Council as recommendations for amending the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation & Management Act.

The Advisory Panel (AP) Selection Committee will meet in closed session from 3:30 p.m to 4:30 p.m. to recommend members for two Ad Hoc panels to review preparation of a supplemental environmental impact

statement (SEIS) for the Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) Amendment. The Personnel Committee will meet in closed session from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to consider revisions to the personnel section of the Administrative Handbook.

The Council will act on the committee recommendations on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday followed by agency reports. The Council will hold closed sessions for Administrative Policy and Personnel Committee Wednesday evening at 5:00 p.m.

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, 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 Councilís 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 January 14, 2002.

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 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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