This is a publication of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council pursuant to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Award No. NA17FC2203.



Tampa, Florida - January 30, 2002 - In a press release dated January 25, 2002, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) announced that was separating out a red grouper rebuilding plan from draft Reef Fish Amendment 18 and proceeding with the rebuilding plan as a separate draft Red Grouper Rebuilding Plan Regulatory Amendment, with public hearings on the draft regulatory amendment scheduled around the Gulf coast. However, the Council, at its January 21-24, 2002 meeting, decided that some of the alternatives originally announced for inclusion in the regulatory amendment covered a broader range of issues than just red grouper rebuilding and that it would be more appropriate to consider them under Amendment 18, which is intended to be a comprehensive review of grouper. In order to narrow the scope of the regulatory amendment to just those issues specific to a red grouper rebuilding plan, the following alternatives previously announced for inclusion in the regulatory amendment will be considered at a later time as part of Amendment 18 and not as part of the regulatory amendment:

Establish closed areas, phase out the use of longlines and buoy gear for reef fish fishing, set a boundary line for the commercial use of bandit gear or other vertical hook-and-line gear, alternate months in which longline/buoy gear and bandit/vertical line gear can be used in the commercial reef fish fishery, add/remove drift style and bottom style buoy gear from the list of allowable reef fish fishing gear, and clarify the allowance or prohibition of recreational bag limits of reef fish on a commercial reef fish vessel.

The alternatives that will be considered in the Red Grouper Rebuilding Plan Regulatory Amendment are: definitions for maximum sustainable yield (MSY), the fishing mortality rate that produces MSY (FMSY), the biomass or biomass proxy that supports MSY (BMSY), the minimum stock size threshold below which a stock is considered to be overfished (MSST), the maximum fishing mortality threshold above which a stock is considered to be undergoing overfishing (MFMT), and optimum yield (OY). The regulatory amendment also contains alternatives for selecting a rebuilding strategy and rebuilding scenarios (combinations of management measures) to achieve rebuilding. In addition to the pre-constructed scenarios, the regulatory amendment contains individual alternatives to adjust the shallow-water grouper quota, implement or adjust closed seasons, implement commercial trip limits, adjust recreational bag limits, move the longline/buoy gear boundary, and change the starting date of the commercial reef fish fishing year.

A copy of the draft Red Grouper Regulatory Amendment can be obtained by calling the Council office at 813-228-2815 (toll-free 888-833-1844).

The public hearings, along with the previously announced scoping meetings on the use of pelagic longlines to harvest dolphin (fish) will be held as previously announced, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the following locations and dates:

Monday, February 18, 2002
Edison Community College
Lee County Campus
Corbin Auditorium, Bldg. J-103
8099 College Parkway
Fort Myers, FL  33919
(Park in Lot #8)
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Tampa Airport Hilton
2225 Lois Avenue
Tampa, FL  33607
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
MS Dept. of Marine Resources
1141 Bayview Drive
Biloxi, MS  39530
Wednesday, February 20, 2002
Plantation Inn
9301 West Fort Island Trail
Crystal River, FL  34429
Wednesday, February 20, 2002
New Orleans Airport Hilton
901 Airline Drive
Kenner, LA  70062
Thursday, February 21, 2002
National Marine Fisheries Service
3500 Delwood Beach Road
Panama City, FL  32408
Thursday, February 21, 2002
Texas A&M University
200 Seawolf Parkway
Galveston, TX  77553

In addition to the above hearings, public testimony will be accepted on the Red Grouper Regulatory Amendment on March 13, 2002 at the Gulf Council meeting in Mobile, Alabama where final action will be taken. Written comments will be accepted if received at the Council office by March 1, 2002.

The meetings are open to the public and are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to the Council office by February 11, 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 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 Councilís web site at In addition, Council press releases may be received via e-mail by sending a blank e-mail message to with SUBSCRIBE as the subject.