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


Tampa, Florida - December 15, 2003 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold public hearings to solicit comments on draft Amendment 22 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) that contains alternatives for red snapper to: 1) redefine the biological reference points of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and optimum yield (OY); 2) set status determination criteria including maximum fishing mortality threshold (MFMT) and minimum stock size threshold (MSST); 3) establish a rebuilding schedule that is consistent with the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (SFA); and 4) establish a standardized methodology to collect bycatch information.

The public hearings will be held from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the following locations and dates:

Monday, January 5, 2004
Laguna Madre Leardning Center 
Port Isabel High School 
Highway 100
Port Isabel, TX  78578
Wednesday, January 7, 2004
San Luis Resort
5222 Seawall Boulevard
Galveston Island, TX 77551
Monday, January 5, 2004
MS Department of Marine Resources 
1141 Bayview Drive 
Biloxi, Mississippi 39530 
Wednesday, January 7, 2004
Destin Community Center
101 Stahlman Avenue
Destin, Florida 32541
Tuesday, January 6, 2004
Port Aransas Civic Center
710 West Avenue A
Port Aransas, TX 78373
Thursday, January 8, 2004
New Orleans Airport Hilton
901 Airline Drive
Kenner, Louisiana 70062
Tuesday, January 6, 2004
Hilton Beachfront Garden Inn
23092 Perdido Beach Boulevard
Orange Beach, Alabama 36561
Thursday, January 8, 2004
Holiday Inn
15208 Gulf Boulevard
Madeira Beach, Florida 33708

The red snapper stock is in an overfished condition and subject to overfishing. Currently this stock is under a rebuilding program to restore the stock to 20 percent spawning potential ratio (SPR) by 2019. However, this plan is inconsistent with National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) National Standard Guidelines (NSG) for setting definitions of overfishing and the overfished condition of stocks that are consistent with SFA and for setting the maximum rebuilding time. Definitions of stock size, the overfished threshold, and yield must be biomass based, but overfishing definitions can be based on SPR. Therefore, before the rebuilding plan can be revised, overfished and overfishing targets and thresholds that are consistent with SFA and the NSG must be specified so that rebuilding goals are known.

For overfished stocks, a recovery plan must be developed to restore the stocks to the biomass level capable of producing MSY on a continuing basis (BMSY). This is more conservative than the current overfishing definition of 20 percent SPR, which is estimated to be the minimal level needed to prevent future declines in the stock. Rebuilding periods are to be as short as possible, but not to exceed 10 years unless the conditions dictate otherwise. For red snapper, even in the absence of fishing mortality, it would take more than 10 years to rebuild the stock. Therefore, NOAA Fisheries’ NSG allows for a maximum recovery period in the absence of fishing mortality (12 years) plus the mean generation time (19.6 years), or 31.6 years for red snapper. A recovery plan adopted by the Council under the new guidelines in 2001 would have to reach its recovery target during the year 2032 or earlier. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (M-SFCMA) requires that FMPs establish a standardized methodology to assess the amount and type of bycatch occurring in the fishery. An additional requirement of the M-SFCMA is to identify and implement conservation measures that, to the extent practicable, minimize bycatch. These actions have not been addressed by the Council for the Gulf reef fish fishery and must be considered.

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 December 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 Council’s web site at In addition, Council press releases may be received via e-mail by sending a blank e-mail message to with SUBSCRIBE as the subject.