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

Gulf Council logoNEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: AS APPROPRIATE
CONTACT: WAYNE E. SWINGLE

COUNCIL TO TAKE PUBLIC TESTIMONY ON TEXAS COOPERATIVE SHRIMP CLOSURE, SECRETARIAL REEF FISH AMENDMENT 1, AND DRAFT REEF FISH AMENDMENT 22 (RED SNAPPER REBUILDING PLAN)

Tampa, Florida - December 15, 2003 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold its January 12-15, 2004 meeting at the Omni Austin Hotel Downtown, 700 San Jacinto at 8th Street, Austin, Texas, and will take public testimony on the Texas Cooperative Shrimp Closure, Secretarial Reef Fish Amendment 1, and Draft Reef Fish Amendment 22 (Red Snapper Rebuilding Plan). Secretarial Amendment 1 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 on Wednesday January 14, 2004, starting at 8:45 a.m. Persons testifying must register before the start of the testimony period.

The meeting will begin on Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. with a closed session-joint meeting of the Administrative Policy and Personnel Committees to consider contracting a court reporter and personnel issues. The Joint Reef Fish/Mackerel/Red Drum Committees will meet from 9:30 a..m to 11:30 a.m. to review and approve the Aquaculture Amendment Scoping Document and hear a presentation on a Cage Culture Study.

The Reef Fish Management Committee will meet on Monday afternoon from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to review the Vermilion Snapper Draft Amendment 23 that contains alternatives for arresting overfishing of that stock by commercial and recreational fishermen. The committee will also review and take final action on the Secretarial Reef Fish Amendment 1 that contains alternatives for arresting overfishing of red grouper by the commercial and recreational fishermen; as well as review and take final action on the Draft Reef Fish Amendment 22 that contains alternatives for a red snapper rebuilding plan. The species groupings for status determination criteria will also be discussed. The Committee will also review the Proposed Rule for Reef Fish Amendment 21 and address their intent on the definition of surface trolling. The Committee will develop recommendations for consideration by full Council on Wednesday afternoon.

The Shrimp Management Committee will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, January 13, 2004 to review Texas Closure analyses and to review Draft Shrimp Amendment 13/EA that includes alternatives for status criteria and benchmarks as well as a revised standardized bycatch reporting methodology:

From 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. the Red Drum Management Committee will meet to hear the issue of shipping of stock across the EEZ and to discuss overfishing of the stock.

From 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon the Mackerel Management Committee will meet to review the Options Paper for Amendment 15, discuss trip limit revisions, and select scoping meeting sites.

From 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. the Joint Reef Fish/Mackerel Committees will meet to review a scoping document for joint reef fish/mackerel limited access program and select sites for scoping hearings.

The Law Enforcement Committee will meet from 2:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. to review the issue of criminal penalties under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA)

The Habitat Protection Committee will meet from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to review the comments/response section of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Generic Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) Amendment; and to hear comments from the Texas Habitat Protection Advisory Panel meeting.

The Council will act on committee recommendations on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday 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 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 January 5, 2004.

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.

X X X