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

GULF COUNCIL AND NMFS ISSUE A NOTICE OF INTENT TO PREPARE A DRAFT SUPPLEMENTAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT AND HOLDS PUBLIC HEARINGS/SCOPING MEETINGS; REQUESTS FOR COMMENTS; FINAL ACTION ON RED GROUPER POSTPONED UNTIL JULY 2002

Tampa, Florida - February 7, 2002 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) intend to prepare a draft supplemental environmental impact statement (DSEIS). The DSEIS will assess the impacts on the natural and human environments of the management measures of a draft secretarial amendment to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan to establish a rebuilding plan for red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico (Red Grouper Amendment). The previously announced public hearings to receive comments on proposed measures of the Draft Red Grouper Amendment will also serve as scoping hearings to solicit public comments on the scope of issues to be addressed in the DSEIS for the rebuilding plan for red grouper. Therefore, final action on the Red Grouper Amendment, originally scheduled for the March 2002 Council meeting in Mobile, Alabama, is now scheduled at the Gulf Council meting in July 2002 in Sarasota, Florida. In conjunction with each public hearing on the Draft Red Grouper Amendment, an additional scoping meeting will also be held to obtain comments on whether the Council should begin to develop an amendment under the Coastal Migratory Pelagics Fishery Management Plan to address prohibitions on the use of pelagic longlines to harvest dolphin (fish) in the Gulf of Mexico. This scoping meeting is being held by the Council under its internal scoping process to receive public comments on whether development of a management action should proceed.

The content of the Draft Red Grouper Amendment was announced in the press release dated January 25, 2002 and a copy of the Draft Red Grouper Amendment can be obtained by calling the Council office at 813-228-2815 (toll-free 888-833-1844). The previously announced red grouper public hearings and scoping meetings on the use of pelagic longlines to harvest dolphin (fish) will be held 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)
941-489-9300
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Tampa Airport Hilton
2225 Lois Avenue
Tampa, FL  33607
813-877-6688
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
MS Dept. of Marine Resources
1141 Bayview Drive
Biloxi, MS  39530
228-374-5000
Wednesday, February 20, 2002
Plantation Inn
9301 West Fort Island Trail
Crystal River, FL  34429
352-795-4211
Wednesday, February 20, 2002
New Orleans Airport Hilton
901 Airline Drive
Kenner, LA  70062
504-469-5000
Thursday, February 21, 2002
National Marine Fisheries Service
3500 Delwood Beach Road
Panama City, FL  32408
850-234-6541
Thursday, February 21, 2002
Texas A&M University
200 Seawolf Parkway
Galveston, TX  77553
409-740-4416
 
 

In addition to the above hearings, public testimony will be accepted on the Draft Red Grouper Amendment at the Gulf Council meeting where final action will be taken, in Sarasota, Florida on July 10, 2002. Written comments on the scope of the DSEIS for the Draft Red Grouper Amendment and on the proposed amendment to prohibit longlines in the CMP fishery will be accepted if received at the Council office by April 1, 2002. Written comments on the Draft Red Grouper Amendment will be accepted if received at the Council office by June 13, 2002. The final action date and location will be announced in a later news release.

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 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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