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

REEF FISH AP AND SSC TO BE CONVENED TO REVIEW 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 - August 2, 2002 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene its Reef Fish Advisory Panel (AP) and Reef Fish Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) to review 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 AP and SSC will be convened via conference call beginning at 10:00 a.m. EST on August 26, 2002 and August 28, 2002, respectively. The greater amberjack resource in the Gulf of Mexico was declared overfished by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on February 9, 2001 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.

Listening stations will be available at the following locations: National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Regional Office, 9721 Executive Center Drive, North, St. Petersburg, Florida 33702, Contact: Joyce Mochrie at 727-570-5305; National Marine Fisheries Service, Pascagoula Laboratory, 3909 Frederic Street, Pascagoula, Mississippi 39567, Contact: Cheryl Hinkel at 228-762-4591, ext. 267.

A copy of the agenda and the Secretarial Amendment can be obtained by contacting the Council at 813-228-2815. Although other non-emergency issues not on the agenda 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 this meeting. Actions of the AP and SSC 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 Magnuson-Stevens Act, provided the public has been notified of the Councilís intent to take action to address the emergency.

The listening station is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Anne Alford at the Council by August 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 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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