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: STEVEN ATRAN

REEF FISH STOCK ASSESSMENT PANEL TO REVIEW NEW RED GROUPER AND YELLOWEDGE GROUPER STOCK ASSESSMENTS

Tampa, Florida - August 26, 2002 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene a meeting of the Reef Fish Stock Assessment Panel (RFSAP) to review stock assessments on the status of the red grouper and yellowedge grouper stocks in the Gulf of Mexico. These stock assessments were prepared by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and will be presented to the RFSAP. The last red grouper assessment was made in 1999. In October 2000, NMFS declared red grouper to be overfished based on the 1999 assessment plus additional analyses requested by the RFSAP. In July 2002, the Council approved a red grouper rebuilding plan, which is being submitted to NMFS for review, approval and implementation. There have been no previous assessments of yellowedge grouper, and the status of the stock is unknown.

The meeting is scheduled for September 17-20, 2002 at the Miami Laboratory of NMFS, 75 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, Florida 33149. The meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 17, 2002 and will conclude by 12:00 noon on Friday, September 20, 2002.

The RFSAP is composed of biologists who are trained in the specialized field of population dynamics. They advise the Council on the status of stocks and, when necessary, recommend a level of ABC needed to prevent overfishing or to effect a recovery of an overfished stock. They may also recommend catch restrictions needed to attain management goals.

Based on its review of the red grouper and yellowedge grouper stock assessments, the RFSAP may recommend whether to declare the stocks overfished and/or undergoing overfishing, and may recommend a range of acceptable biological catch (ABC) for 2003. The RFSAP may also recommend management measures to achieve the ABC.

The conclusions of the RFSAP will be reviewed by the Councilís Standing and Special Reef Fish Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), Socioeconomic Panel (SEP), and Reef Fish Advisory Panel (RFAP) at meetings to be held in October, 2002. Red grouper is a component of the shallow-water grouper complex (which consists of red grouper, gag, yellowfin grouper, black grouper, scamp, yellowmouth grouper, rock hind, and red hind). Yellowedge grouper is a component of the deep-water grouper complex (which consists of misty grouper, snowy grouper, yellowedge grouper, warsaw grouper, speckled hind, and, after the shallow-water grouper quota is filled, scamp). The Council may set year 2003 total allowable catches (TAC) as well as other management measures for the red grouper component of the shallow-water grouper complex and the yellowedge grouper component of the deep-water grouper complex at its meeting in Key Largo, Florida on November 12-15, 2002.

A copy of the agenda for the RFSAP meeting can be obtained by calling 813-228-2815. Although other issues not on the agenda may come before the RFSAP 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 RFSAP will be restricted to those issues specifically identified in the agenda listed as available by this notice.

The RFSAP 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 September 10, 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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