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: PETER HOOD

PUBLIC HEARINGS SCHEDULED ON THE SECRETARIAL AMENDMENT 2 TO THE REEF FISH FISHERY MANAGEMENT PLAN TO SET GREATER AMBERJACK SUSTAINABLE FISHERIES ACT TARGETS AND THRESHOLDS AND TO SET A REBUILDING PLAN

Tampa, Florida - July 15, 2002 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold two public hearings on the Councilís proposed Secretarial Amendment 2 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) to set greater amberjack Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA) targets and thresholds and to set a rebuilding plan. The greater amberjack resource in the Gulf of Mexico was declared overfished by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on February 9, 2001 and was based on the 2000 greater amberjack stock assessment. The results of several analyses indicated that the stock biomass was below the level needed to sustain harvest at maximum sustainable yield (MSY), with the best estimate indicating that the stock biomass was at less than half the biomass needed to sustain MSY, below the minimum level allowed under the 1998 NMFS National Standard Guidelines. However, NMFS concluded that overfishing is not currently occurring due to the recent implementation of management measures that were not reflected in the stock assessment. These measures included: 1) a reduction in the greater amberjack recreational bag limit from 3 to 1 fish (implemented 1997); 2) a commercial closed season during March, April and May (implemented 1998); and 3) partial protection of misidentified juvenile greater amberjack by establishment of a slot limit on lesser amberjack/banded rudderfish of 14 and 22 inches fork length plus an aggregate 5-fish recreational bag limit. As a result of this finding, additional measures to end overfishing are not needed, but a plan to rebuild the stock is needed.

Because NMFS has declared the stock overfished, the Council is required to rebuild the stock to a level where it is no longer considered overfished. Before a plan can be put into effect, management targets and thresholds that the stock needs to achieve must be defined. These are: definitions for maximum sustainable yield (MSY), optimum yield (OY), the minimum stock size threshold (MSST) below which a stock is considered to be overfished, the maximum fishing mortality threshold (MFMT) above which a stock is considered to be undergoing overfishing. The proposed amendment also provides alternative rebuilding plans that will rebuild the stock within 10 years or less and are based on various rebuilding strategies.

The public hearings will be held from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the following locations and dates:

Tuesday, August 6, 2002
Texas A&M
CLB Building Room 114
200 Seawolf Parkway
Galveston, TX  77553
Wednesday, August 7, 2002
City Hall Auditorium
300 Municipal Drive
Madeira Beach, FL  33708

Copies of the public hearing document for these meetings can be obtained by calling the Council office at 813-228-2815 (toll-free 888-833-1844), or can be downloaded from the Council website (http://www.gulfcouncil.org).

These 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 July 30, 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 Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council prepares fishery management plans that are designed to manage fishery resources in 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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