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: HEIDI LOVETT

GULF COUNCIL TO HOLD WORKSHOPS ON DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROGRAMMATIC ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT (EIS) FOR THE GENERIC AMENDMENT FOR ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH)

Tampa, Florida - April 1, 2002 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) has recently contracted with MRAG Americas, Inc. to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the Council's Generic Amendment for Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) in the Gulf of Mexico. MRAG Americas has assembled a team of biologists, economists, GIS specialists, and NEPA specialists, to develop a comprehensive PEIS that addresses all NEPA requirements and the settlement agreement that was recently reached in AOC et al. v. Daley et al.

As part of this effort, the Council and the MRAG Americas Team consider it very important to involve potential stakeholders throughout the process of the PEIS development to the greatest extent possible. Therefore, two workshops have been organized to take place in mid-April, one in Washington, DC and one in New Orleans, Louisiana to initiate this process.

Each meeting will begin with a focus group workshop of interested participants from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. The consultants will present an outline of the structural components of the PEIS and review and discuss with participants the potential alternatives for defining EFH, defining habitat areas of particular concern (HAPCs), and potential impacts to and for minimizing fishing impacts on EFH. A public comment session will be held from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The meetings times and locations are:

Tuesday, April 16, 2002
Silver Spring, Maryland Holiday Inn
8777 Georgia Avenue (Route 97)
Silver Spring, MD
301-589-0800
Wednesday, April 17, 2002
New Orleans Airport Hilton
901 Airline Drive
Kenner, LA  70062
504-469-5000

Ms. Heidi Lovett, consultant from the MRAG Americas Team, will coordinate these workshops and can be reached at 813-639-9519 or through email:heidilovett@compuserve.com.

These will not be the only workshops scheduled; other opportunities for public and stakeholder involvement exist during the PEIS development process and will be noticed accordingly.

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 April 9, 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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