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: RICHARD L. LEARD 

LAW ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY PANEL TO REVIEW 2003 OPERATIONS PLAN, VMS NEEDS, QUOTA MONITORING, AND OTHER ISSUES

Tampa, Florida - September 23, 2002 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene the Law Enforcement Advisory Panel (LEAP) to review an update of Joint Enforcement Agreements (JEAs) and the 2003 Operations Plans. The LEAP will discuss which Council managed fisheries are most in need of vessel monitoring systems (VMS) and the requirements for VMS. Also to be discussed is whether vessels should be allowed to simultaneously possess recreational and commercial bag limits and trip limits, respectively. A presentation will be given by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on its process used to monitor quota openings and closures (especially red snapper). The LEAP will also review the Gulf Safety Committee activities; the status of Fishery Management Plans (FMPs), amendments, and regulatory actions; and hear state and federal enforcement reports.

The LEAP consists of principal law enforcement officers in each of the Gulf states, as well as the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the U.S. Coast Guard, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationís (NOAA) General Counsel. The LEAP meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, October 16, 2002 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon. The meeting will be held at the Hawks Cay Resort in Duck Key, Florida. A copy of the agenda and related materials can be obtained by calling the Council office at 813-228-2815.

The meetings are open to the public and physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to the Council office by October 9, 2002. Although other non-emergency issues not on the agenda may come before the LEAP for discussion, in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (M-SFCMA), those issues may not be the subject of formal action during this meeting. Actions of the LEAP 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 M-SFCMA, provided that the public has been notified of the Council's intent to take action to address such emergency.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is 1 of 8 Regional Fishery Management Councils that were established by the MSFCMA of 1976, as amended. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council prepares fishery management plans and amendments that are designed to manage fishery resources to the 200-mile limit 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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