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 SET THE BOUNDARY FOR THE TEXAS SHRIMP CLOSURE FOR 2003 AND MAY SELECT TAC FOR YELLOWEDGE AND RED GROUPER

Tampa, Florida - December 3, 2002 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold its January 13-16, 2003 meeting at the Holiday Inn Riverwalk, 217 North St. Maryís, San Antonio, Texas and will take public testimony on the Cooperative Texas Shrimp Closure and on yellowedge and red grouper total allowable catch (TAC). Final action on these TACs will be taken at a subsequent meeting. Public testimony on the amendment is scheduled from 8:45 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Wednesday, January 15, 2003. Persons testifying must register before the start of the testimony period.

The meeting will begin on Monday morning with the Shrimp Management Committee from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. to hear a review of the economic condition of the Texas shrimp industry by Mike Haby of Texas A&M University and biological and economic reports by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on the cooperative Texas Shrimp Closure. The committee will also review the Draft Amendment 13 Options Paper addressing maximum sustainable yield (MSY), optimum yield (OY), maximum stock size threshold (MSST), and maximum fishing mortality threshold (MFMT) for shrimp stocks; vessel monitoring systems (VMS); and bycatch. The committee will make recommendations for full Council review on Thursday morning. The Mackerel Management Committee will meet from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to review a draft regulatory amendment/environmental assessment (EA) which addresses MSY, OY, MSST, and MFMT for the coastal migratory pelagic species.

The Reef Fish Management Committee will meet on Monday afternoon from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to hear the Reef Fish Stock Assessment Panel (RFSAP) report and Socioeconomic Panel (SEP) report on red and yellowedge groupers. They will also review the Draft Reef Fish Amendment 18 Options Paper and the Draft Reef Fish Amendment 21. The Reef Fish Amendment 18 Options Paper considers additional alternatives for management of the grouper stocks. The Reef Fish Amendment 21 considers alternatives related to the marine reserves established as gag aggregation sites off central west Florida. The Committee will also suggest to NMFS and NOAA General Counsel the types of penalties that should be used to deter violations of the provisions of an individual fishing quota (IFQ) system for red snapper. The committee will hear a presentation by NMFS enforcement on violations of the western longline prohibited area. The Reef Fish Committee will continue to meet on Tuesday, January 15 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon, if necessary.

The Habitat Protection Committee will meet on Tuesday afternoon from 1:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. to review and comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) Generic Amendment.

The Council will complete its action on the Draft Red Snapper IFQ profile on Thursday afternoon from 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

The Council will act on the committee recommendations on Wednesday and Thursday followed by agency reports.

Although non-emergency issues not contained in the agenda may come before the Council for discussion, in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, those issues may not be the subject of formal Council action during this meeting. Council action will be restricted to those issues specifically identified in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under Section 305 (c) of the MSFCMA, provided the public has been notified of the Councilís intent to take final action to address the emergency. A copy of the Committee schedule and agenda can be obtained by calling (813) 228-2815. 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 January 6, 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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