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

NOAA logoNEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: IMMEDIATELY
CONTACT: RICHARD L. LEARD 

LAW ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY PANEL TO REVIEW OPTIONS PAPERS FOR POTENTIAL AMENDMENTS TO THE SHRIMP, REEF FISH, AND COASTAL MIGRATORY PELAGICS FMPS AS WELL AS POTENTIAL CHANGES TO PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS

Tampa, Florida - February 21, 2003 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene the Law Enforcement Advisory Panel (LEAP) to review an Options Paper for Amendment 13 to the Shrimp FMP that includes alternatives to improve the bycatch reporting methodology and to further reduce bycatch from shrimp trawling. The LEAP will also review an Options Paper for Amendment 18 to the Reef Fish FMP that includes a variety of options including: changes to the allowable gear, gear and fishery endorsements, vessel monitoring systems, permit reductions, closed areas, closed seasons, and rebuilding plans for some overfished species. An Options Paper for Amendment 21 to the Reef Fish FMP that includes alternatives for maintaining, eliminating, or modifying the current marine reserves known as the Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps sites off the west coast of Florida will also be reviewed by the LEAP. The LEAP will discuss a preliminary Scoping Paper for Amendment 15 to the Coastal Migratory Pelagics FMP that will look at possibly adding additional species to the FMP or its management unit, prohibition of recreational sales, bag and size limits for cobia, and a standardized bycatch reporting methodology. Other items to be considered by the LEAP include penalties for Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (M-SFCMA) violations and the current status of regulatory actions that have previously been submitted for approval by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

The LEAP consists of principal law enforcement officers in each of the Gulf states, as well as the 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 Tuesday, March 18, 2003 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Marriott Grand Hotel, Point Clear, Alabama. A copy of the agenda and related materials can be obtained by calling the Council office at 813-228-2815.

The meeting is 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 March 11, 2003. Although other non-emergency issues not on the agenda may come before the LEAP for discussion, in accordance with the MSFCMA, 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 MSFCMA, 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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