This is a publication of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council pursuant to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Award No. NA04NMF4410020.

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

COUNCIL TO TAKE PUBLIC TESTIMONY ON REEF FISH AMENDMENT 22 (RED SNAPPER REBUILDING PLAN) AND THE FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT (EIS) FOR THE GENERIC ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH) AMENDMENT

Tampa, Florida - February 13, 2004 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold its March 8-12, 2004 meeting at the Adamís Mark Hotel, 64 South Water Street, Mobile, Alabama, and will take public testimony on the Reef Fish Amendment 22 (Red Snapper Rebuilding Plan) and the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Generic Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) Amendment. Public testimony is scheduled on Thursday, March 11, 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 8:00 a.m. starting with the Shrimp Management Committee reviewing Draft Shrimp Amendment 13. The Budget Committee will begin at 9:30 a.m. with a partially closed session to review bids to hire a court reporter. The Budget Committee meeting will then be open to the public to discuss the cost of new microphones and a FSU economic data collection proposal.

The Reef Fish Management Committee will meet on Monday afternoon from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Tuesday, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to review the Public Hearing Draft of Vermilion Snapper 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 Final Reef Fish Amendment 22 (red snapper rebuilding program). An options paper for Reef Fish Amendment 18 pertaining to the grouper fishery will be discussed. The following issues will also be reviewed: The Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) recommendations on grouping amberjacks, tilefish, and deepwater groupers; USCG rules for crew size of inspected recreational for-hire vessels; the South Atlantic Fishery Management Councilís (SAFMC) action on yellowtail snapper; and a status report on the red snapper IFQ referendum. The Committee will ratify and/or add to the SEDAR pool and panel membership for each of the SEDAR workshops during 2004 and 2005 for stocks of king mackerel, red snapper, vermilion snapper, and greater amberjack. The Committee will develop recommendations for consideration by full Council on Thursday afternoon.

On Tuesday the Habitat Protection Committee will meet from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. to review the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Generic Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) Amendment; and to discuss Council participation in the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP). The Joint Reef Fish/Mackerel Committees will meet from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. to review hearing comments on the Joint Reef Fish/Mackerel Limited Access Scoping Document. The committees will also review the Scoping Document for Extension of the Charter Vessel Permit Moratorium.

On Wednesday the Joint Personnel/Administrative Policy Committees will meet in a closed session to address personnel issues and review the Administrative Handbook and Statement of Organizational Practices

and Procedures (SOPPs). The Joint Reef Fish/Mackerel/Red Drum Committees will meet from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. to receive a presentation on a Cage Culture Study; review hearing comments on the Offshore Aquaculture Amendment Scoping Document; and receive a presentation on the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Regional Bycatch Plan.

The Council will act on committee recommendations on Thursday afternoon and Friday 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 March 1, 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.

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