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: RICHARD L. LEARD

LAW ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY PANEL TO REVIEW MANAGEMENT OPTIONS FOR RED GROUPER, STATUS OF JEAs, AND POSSIBLE DEVELOPMENT OF AN ENFORCEABILITY DOCUMENT

Tampa, Florida - February 26, 2002 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene the Law Enforcement Advisory Panel (LEAP) to review management options for a Secretarial Amendment to the Reef Fish FMP that would establish a 10-year rebuilding period for red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico. The amendment contains various options for setting sustainable fishing parameters and rebuilding strategies/scenarios. It also contains management options including quotas, trip limits, closed seasons, bag limits, and additional gear restrictions. The LEAP will also review the status regarding implementation of previous management actions taken by the Council, as well as an update of the implementation of the Cooperative 2002 Operations Plan, including Joint Enforcement Agreements (JEAs) among the Gulf states and NOAA Enforcement. Finally, the LEAP will discuss the possible development of an enforceability document that would gauge the relative ease/difficulty for enforcement of various types of management measures, and issues of safety regarding fishing around port and offshore structures, particularly oil and gas rigs.

The LEAP consists of principal law enforcement officers in each of the Gulf states, as well as the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the U.S. Coast Guard, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationís (NOAA) General Counsel. The LEAP meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 20, 2002 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon. The meeting will be held at Casino Magic - Biloxi, 195 East Beach Boulevard, Biloxi, Mississippi. A copy of the agenda and related materials can be obtained by calling the Council office at 813-228-2815.

The meetings are open to the public and physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to the Council office by March 13, 2002. Although other non-emergency issues not on the agenda may come before the LEAP for discussion, in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (M-SFCMA), those issues may not be the subject of formal action during this meeting. Actions of the LEAP will be restricted to those issues specifically identified in the agenda and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under Section 305(c) of the M-SFCMA, provided that the public has been notified of the Council's intent to take action to address such emergency.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is 1 of 8 regional fishery management councils that were established by the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council prepares fishery management plans, amendments, and other regulatory actions 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, 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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