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

NOAA logoNEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: IMMEDIATELY
CONTACT: STEVEN ATRAN

REEF FISH ADVISORY PANEL AND SCIENTIFIC AND STATISTICAL COMMITTEE TO REVIEW DRAFT RED GROUPER REBUILDING PLAN REGULATORY AMENDMENT IN NEW ORLEANS

Tampa, Florida - February 1, 2002 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene its Reef Fish Advisory Panel (AP) and the Standing and Special Reef Fish Scientific and Stistical Committee (SSC) to review a draft Red Grouper Rebuilding Plan Regulatory Amendment and to provide recommendations to the Council on red grouper regulations. The AP will be convened at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, February 26, 2002 and will conclude by noon, Wednesday, February 27, 2002. The SSC will subsequently convene at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 27, 2002 and will conclude by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 28, 2002. The meetings will be held at the New Orleans Airport Hilton, 901 Airline Drive, Kenner, Louisiana.

Red grouper were declared to be overfished and undergoing overfishing by the Acting Southeast Regional Administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service in October 2000. The Council originally began developing a rebuilding plan as part of Draft Reef Fish Amendment 18, which addressed a number of other reef fish issues. However, due to delays in the development of Amendment 18, the Council chose to separate out the rebuilding plan and proceed with it through a separate regulatory amendment.

The red grouper regulatory amendment contains alternatives for determining the sustainable fishing parameters on which a rebuilding plan is based. These include 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.

Copies of the agendas of these meetings and a draft Red Grouper Regulatory Amendment can be obtained by calling the Council office at 813-228-2815 (toll-free 888-833-1844). Although other non-emergency issues not on the agendas may come before the AP and SSC for discussion, in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during these meetings. Actions of the AP and SSC will be restricted to those issues specifically identified in the agendas and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action

under Section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, provided the public has been notified of the Council's intent to take action to address the emergency.

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 19, 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 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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