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: STEVEN ATRAN

REEF FISH AMENDMENT 21, CONTINUATION OF MADISON-SWANSON AND STEAMBOAT LUMPS MARINE RESERVES, TO BE REVIEWED VIA CONFERENCE CALL

Tampa, Florida - June 17, 2003 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene its Standing and Special Reef Fish Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) by conference call to review and comment on a proposed Amendment 21 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) to extend the time period for the Madison/Swanson and Steamboat Lumps marine reserves beyond their June 16, 2004 expiration date.

The Madison/Swanson and Steamboat Lumps marine reserves were implemented on June 19, 2000 with a 4-year sunset provision. The Madison/Swanson site is approximately 115 square nautical miles in size and is located about 40 nautical miles southwest of Apalachicola City, Florida. Steamboat Lumps is approximately 104 square nautical miles in size and is located about 95 nautical miles west of Tarpon Springs, Florida. Within each area, fishing is prohibited for all species except for highly migratory species, i.e., tunas, marlin, oceanic sharks, sailfishes, and swordfish. These marine reserves were created primarily to protect a portion of the gag spawning aggregations and to protect a portion of the offshore population of male gag. The areas are also suitable habitat and provide protection for many other species, such as scamp, red grouper, warsaw grouper, speckled hind, red snapper, red porgy, and others. If action is not taken to continue the reserves, they will cease to exist after June 16, 2004.

The conference call is scheduled for July 10, 2003 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. EDT. Listening stations will be available at the following locations for members of the public that wish to participate in the Reef Fish AP and Special Reef Fish SSC session: National Marine Fisheries Service Panama City Laboratory, 3500 Delwood Beach Road, Panama City, Florida, contact Gary Fitzhugh at 850-234-6541, extension 214. National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Regional Office, 9721 North Executive Center Drive, St. Petersburg, Florida, contact Peter Hood at 727-570-5305.

Copies of the public hearing draft of Amendment 21 can be obtained by calling the Council office at 813-228-2815 (toll-free 888-833-1844), or can be downloaded from the Council website (http://www.gulfcouncil.org). These meetings are open to the public and are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to the Council office by July 3, 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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