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: AS APPROPRIATE
CONTACT: WAYNE E. SWINGLE

COUNCIL TO TAKE PUBLIC TESTIMONY ON SECRETARIAL REEF FISH AMENDMENT 1

Tampa, Florida - October 17, 2003 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold its November 9-12, 2003 meeting at the Palace Casino Resort, 158 Howard Avenue, Biloxi, Mississippi, and will take public testimony on Secretarial Reef Fish Amendment 1. The amendment was developed by NMFS to arrest overfishing occurring in the red grouper stock. By law NMFS is required to submit the amendments it drafts for comment by the affected Council. Public testimony is scheduled from 9:45 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Tuesday, November 11, 2003. Persons testifying must register before the start of the testimony period.

The meeting will begin on Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. with partially closed session of a joint meeting of the Personnel and Administrative Policy Committees to review past personnel issues. The Administrative Policy Committee will meet from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to review changes to the Administrative Handbook.

The Reef Fish Management Committee will meet on Sunday afternoon from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to review Secretarial Reef Fish Amendment 1 that contains alternatives for arresting overfishing of red grouper by the commercial and recreational fishermen. They will also review Draft Reef Fish Amendment 22 that contains alternatives for a red snapper rebuilding plan; and a Vermilion Snapper Regulatory Amendment that contains alternatives for arresting overfishing of that stock by commercial and recreational fishermen. Public hearings will be held on both of these amendments in December or January. The Committee will also review the yellowtail snapper assessment and will develop recommendations for consideration by full Council on Tuesday afternoon. The Reef Fish Management Committee will reconvene from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on Monday, November 10, if necessary.

The Shrimp Management Committee will meet from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Monday, November 10, to review Draft Shrimp Amendment 13/EA that includes alternatives for status criteria and benchmarks as well as a revised standardized bycatch reporting methodology: The Shrimp Committee will also review a Draft Options Paper for Shrimp Amendment 14/SEIS that includes alternatives to improve the bycatch reporting methodology, further reduce bycatch, and for a limited access program and vessel monitoring system.

From 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. the Migratory Species Management Committee will meet to review information on bycatch of sharks in the menhaden fishery.

From 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. the Habitat Protection Committee will review and revise a Council policy for mariculture developed by the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission.

The Data Collection Committee will meet from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to hear a report on the Fishery Information System (FIN) program implemented by the states for collection of fishery statistics from recreational and commercial fishermen. The Committee will also discuss a study proposal to collect some of these statistics, data quality assurance and control measures, and separation of guide boats from charter and headboats in the statistical program.

The Council will act on committee recommendations on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday 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 (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 November 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 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.

X X X