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 LEARD 

FISHERY COUNCIL ANNOUNCES AVAILABILITY OF ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT

Tampa, Florida - August 26, 2003 - At its July 2003 meeting, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) approved a " Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Generic Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) Amendment to the Following Fishery Management Plans of the Gulf of Mexico: Shrimp, Red Drum, Stone Crab, Coral and Coral Reef in the Gulf of Mexico and Spiny Lobster and the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic." Copies of the document can be obtained by contacting the Council at the above address.

In 1998, the Council completed its preparation of the EFH Generic Amendment that proposed amending to all of the Councilís fishery management plans (FMPs) for the Gulf of Mexico. The Council prepared the EFH Generic Amendment in response to provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996, and 50 CFR 600.815 (guidelines regarding EFH and the contents of FMPs).

Following the judicial decision in American Oceans Campaign v. Daley (Civil Action No. 99-982), NOAA Fisheries and the Council began preparation of the Draft EIS in March 2001 to supercede the environmental assessment previously prepared in support of the EFH Generic Amendment. The Draft EIS analyzes within each fishery a range of potential alternatives to: (1) describe and identify essential fish habitat for each fishery; (2) identify other actions to encourage the conservation and enhancement of such EFH; and (3) identify measures to minimize to the extent practicable any adverse effects of fishing on such EFH. The Draft EIS contains the scientific methods and data used in the analyses, background information on the physical, biological, human, and administrative environments, and a description of the fishing and non-fishing threats to EFH.

Written comments on the Draft EIS should be submitted to Dr. Roy E. Crabtree, Regional Administrator, NOAA Fisheries, 9721 Executive Center Drive North, St. Petersburg, Florida 33702 by November 29, 2003.

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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