This is a publication of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council pursuant to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Award No. NA03NMF4410028.

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RELEASE: AS APPROPRIATE
CONTACT: WAYNE E. SWINGLE

COUNCIL TO TAKE FINAL ACTION ON REGULATORY AMENDMENT FOR COASTAL MIGRATORY PELAGICS

Tampa, Florida - February 19, 2003 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold its March 11-14, 2003 meeting at the Adamís Mark Hotel, 64 South Water Street, Mobile, Alabama and will take public testimony on the Draft Coastal Pelagics (CMP) Regulatory Amendment. The draft CMP Regulatory Amendment sets standards for maximum sustainable yield (MSY), optimum yield (OY), overfished and overfishing for king and Spanish mackerel, and cobia. Final action to approve the regulatory amendment will be taken at a subsequent meeting. Public testimony on the amendment is scheduled from 2:15 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 13, 2003. Persons testifying must register before the start of the testimony period.

The meeting will begin on Tuesday morning with a closed session of the Advisory Panel (AP) Selection Committee from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. to appoint members of the APs. The Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) Selection Committee will meet in closed session, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., to appoint members of the SSCs, stock assessment panels (SAPs), and socioeconomic panel (SEP). Both committees will make recommendations for the full Council review on Thursday afternoon.

The Data Collection Committee will meet on Tuesday afternoon from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. to hear a presentation of a proposed Florida State University (FSU) economic study. The Administrative Policy Committee will meet from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. to discuss revisions to guidelines for National Standard 1. The Reef Fish Committee will meet from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to discuss the Reef Fish Amendment 21 Public Hearing Document and hear a presentation by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Enforcement on grouper fishery violations.

The Mackerel Management Committee will meet on Wednesday, March 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. to review a draft regulatory amendment/environmental assessment (EA) which addresses MSY, OY, minimum stock size threshold (MSST), and maximum fishing mortality threshold (MFMT) for the coastal migratory pelagic species, and a scoping document for draft Amendment 15 to include size and bag limit alternatives for cobia, and commercial landings for blue runner. The Shrimp Management Committee will meet from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to discuss the Shrimp Amendment 13 Options Paper addressing MSY, OY, MSST, and MFMT for shrimp stocks; vessel monitoring systems (VMS); and bycatch reduction.

There will be a joint meeting of the Reef Fish, Mackerel, and Red Drum Management Committees on Wednesday afternoon from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. to discuss the proposed scoping document and meetings on an aquaculture generic amendment. The Habitat Protection Committee will meet from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. to review and comment on the alternatives for specifying essential fish habitat (EFH), habitat areas of particular concern (HAPCs), and impacts of fishing on EFH in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the EFH Generic Amendment.

There will be a joint meeting of the Reef Fish and Artificial Reef Committees on Thursday morning from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to consider proceeding with special management zone (SMZ) designations for Alabama Reefs.

From 1:15 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Thursday afternoon there will be a presentation by the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC) on accessing the Fisheries Information Network. This will be followed by a presentation of a request for fishing vessel designation from the Worldwide Water Foundation from 2:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.

The Council will act on the committee recommendations Friday morning 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 March 4, 2003.

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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