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 HEAR SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION ON THE STRUCTURE OF THE RED SNAPPER STOCK AND REVIEW PRELIMINARY ISSUES FOR ADDITIONAL MANAGEMENT OF REEF FISH, COASTAL MIGRATORY PELAGICS, AND SHRIMP

Tampa, Florida - August 15, 2003 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold its September 8-11, 2003 meeting at the Baton Rouge Marriott, 5500 Hilton Avenue, Baton Rouge, LA. The meeting will begin on Monday morning at 9:00 a.m. with an Orientation Session for new members followed by a closed session at 10:00 a.m. of the Advisory Panel (AP) Selection Committee to review NMFS enforcement records.

The Reef Fish Management Committee will meet on Monday afternoon from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. to review the Vermilion Snapper Regulatory Amendment Options Paper that includes alternatives for arresting overfishing that is believed to be occurring on that stock. The committee will review public comments on this issue from scoping hearings held in August 2003. The committee will consider implementing a new stock assessment procedure (SEDAR) under which groups of panels review the data, develop the assessment, and develop a peer-reviewed assessment. The committee will consider alternatives that should be included in the Reef Fish 18 options paper for management of the grouper stocks. The committee will also discuss which of the Councilís advisory panels to utilize in the development of a red snapper IFQ system. The committee will also consider submitting an emergency action request to NMFS to assure that there is no lapse between the June 16, 2004 expiration of the current regulations establishing the Madison-Swanson and Steamboat Lumps marine reserves, and implementation of the new regulations under Amendment 21.

The Budget Committee will meet from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to discuss the CY2004 budget.

The Mackerel Management Committee will meet on Tuesday morning from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. to review potential alternatives and issues to be included in a scoping document for Amendment 15 to the Coastal Migratory Pelagics FMP. The Shrimp Management Committee will meet from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to review Draft Shrimp Amendment 13/EA Options Paper that includes alternatives for status criteria and benchmarks as well as a revised standardized bycatch reporting methodology; and a Draft Options Paper for Shrimp Amendment 14/SEIS that includes alternatives to improve the bycatch reporting methodology, further reduce bycatch, and achieve optimum yield.

From 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Migratory Species Management Committee will meet to discuss shark bycatch in the menhaden purse seine fishery, Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel (HMS AP) recommendations on Amendment 1 to the HMS Fishery Management Plan, scoping issues for HMS Amendment 2 and Billfish Amendment2, and the ICCAT Draft recommendations on Integrated Migratory and Control Measures. The Habitat Protection Committee will meet from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to discuss the Florida Offshore Aquaculture Inc. Permit, and a dredge material disposal application in Mississippi.

On Wednesday morning there will be four presentations of MARFIN reports on stock structure of Gulf red snapper. These reports suggest there are separate subpopulations of red snapper east and west of the Mississippi River.

The Council will act on committee recommendations on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning followed by agency reports. The Council will elect the chairman and vice-chairman following Other Business.

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 (MSFCMA), 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 August 29, 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 Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council prepares fishery management plans that are designed to manage fishery resources in 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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