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: RICHARD LEARD

LAW ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY PANEL TO REVIEW NMFS SHARK SEASONS, SCOPING DOCUMENTS FOR LIMITED ACCESS, REEF FISH REBUILDING PLANS, AND MARINE AQUACULTURE

Tampa, Florida - February 20, 2004 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene the Law Enforcement Advisory Panel (LEAP) to review possible changes to the National Marine Fisheries Serviceís (NMFS) 2005 commercial shark fishing seasons. The LEAP will also review scoping documents that would potentially limit access in the commercial king mackerel and reef fish fisheries to replace the existing moratoria. A scoping document that would potentially allow marine aquaculture will also be reviewed along with a scoping document to potentially extend the existing moratorium on the issuance of new charter vessel permits. The LEAP will also review draft amendments that would establish rebuilding plans for red snapper and vermilion snapper in the Gulf, and scoping options for a variety of management measures pertaining to the Coastal Migratory Pelagics Fishery Management Plan.

The LEAP consists of principal law enforcement officers in each of the Gulf states, as well as the NMFS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the U.S. Coast Guard, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationís (NOAA) General Counsel. The LEAP meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 16, 2004 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn Chateau LeMoyne, 301 Rue Dauphine, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112. A copy of the agenda and related materials can be obtained by calling the Council office at 813-228-2815.

The meeting is open to the public and physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to the Council office by March 8, 2004. Although other non-emergency issues not on the agenda may come before the LEAP for discussion, in accordance with the M-SFCMA, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during this meeting. Actions of the LEAP will be restricted to those issues specifically identified in the agenda and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under Section 305(c) of the M-SFCMA, provided that the public has been notified of the Council's intent to take action to address such emergency.

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