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: AS APPROPRIATE
CONTACT: WAYNE E. SWINGLE

COUNCIL TO CONVENE HABITAT PROTECTION ADVISORY PANELS

Tampa, Florida - August 5, 2002 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene its Florida/Alabama, Mississippi/Louisiana, and Texas Habitat Protection Advisory Panels (APs). The Habitat Protection APs are made up of representatives from the recreational and commercial fishing groups, conservation organizations, academia, and state and federal resource agencies. The principal role of the APs is to assist the Council in attempting to maintain optimum conditions within the habitat and ecosystems supporting the marine resources of the Gulf of Mexico. The Habitat Protection APs call to the Councilís attention proposed projects being developed and other activities which may adversely impact the Gulf marine fisheries and their supporting ecosystems. The APs may also provide advice to the Council on its policies and procedures for addressing environmental issues and review habitat related documents as requested.

The meeting will be held at the Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore, 2225 Lois Avenue, Tampa, Florida to review and discuss fishery habitat issues. The meeting will convene at 1:00 p.m., Wednesday, August 28, 2002 and is expected to adjourn by 3:00 p.m. on Friday, August 30, 2002.

At this meeting, the APs will tentatively discuss methylmercury in marine fish, possible impact of explosive removal of oil and gas structures on marine fish populations, and potential impacts of reduced freshwater inflow on the oyster populations of Apalachicola Bay, Florida. A major agenda item for the APs will be to review the Councilís Intermediate Draft of the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the Generic Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) Amendment. A copy of the agenda can be obtained by calling 813-228-2815.

Although other issues not on the agenda may come before the panel for discussion, in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, those issues may not be the subject of formal panel action during this meeting. Panel action will be restricted to those issues specifically identified in the agenda listed as available by this notice.

The meeting is open to the public and is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to the Council office by August 21, 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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