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

SCOPING MEETINGS RESCHEDULED ON POTENTIAL AMENDMENT FOR LIMITING ACCESS IN THE COMMERCIAL REEF FISH AND KING MACKEREL FISHERIES AND ON A POTENTIAL GENERIC AMENDMENT FOR MANAGEMENT OF OFFSHORE MARINE AQUACULTURE

Tampa, Florida - February 27, 2004 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council), due to inclement weather, rescheduled the Panama City Florida scoping meeting to Wednesday, March 3, 2004. The scoping meeting will be held beginning at 6:00 p.m. beginning with the Limited Access document and following immediately with the Offshore Marine Aquaculture document. The meeting will conclude no later than 10:00 p.m. and will be held at the same location as previously scheduled :

Wednesday, March 3, 2004
National Marine Fisheries Service
Panama City Laboratory
3500 Delwood Beach Road
Panama City, FL 32408
850-234-6541 - ext 201

The scoping meeting is scheduled to solicit input from interested parties to identify issues and potential impacts regarding alternatives to limit entry in the king mackerel and reef fish fisheries. King mackerel and reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico are managed under their respective FMPs. A moratorium on the issuance of new commercial king mackerel permits was established by Amendment 8 to the Mackerel FMP in March 1998, and extended with the implementation of Amendment 12 to the Mackerel FMP; and is scheduled to expire on October 15, 2005. A moratorium on the issuance of new commercial reef fish permits was established by Amendment 4 to the Reef Fish FMP in May 1992. The moratorium has been maintained since that time with the implementation of Amendments 9, 11, and 17 to the Reef Fish FMP, and is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2005.

Management alternatives that could be considered by the Council include, but are not limited to: a "no action" alternative regarding each fishery, which would allow the moratoria to expire; an extension of the existing moratoria for a designated time frame; or the establishment of some form of license limitation system for each fishery. If a license limitation system is chosen, the Council may also consider alternatives for different classes of licenses, initial qualification, initial allocations by license classes, transferability, and appeals regarding eligibility.

The Scoping document for Generic Amendment for Offshore Marine Aquaculture; (1) summarizes the existing federal statutes, programs, and rules that apply to marine aquaculture of fish and marine organisms in the federal waters of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ); (2) lists the fishery stocks that may be cultured

in marine aquaculture programs carried out under the amendment; (3) discusses the environmental and other effects of the various marine aquaculture practices to provide a background for selecting alternatives for the best management practices possible for regulating the marine aquaculture process; and (4) sets forth a broad range of management alternatives for public consideration in selecting the best management practices (BMP) possible.

In accordance with NOAA’s Administrative Order NAO 216-6, Section 5.02(c), the Council has identified this preliminary range of alternatives for both documents as a means to initiate discussion for scoping purposes only. This may not represent the full range of alternatives that eventually will be evaluated by the Council. Depending on the range of alternatives and issues identified during the scoping process, the Council may prepare an Environmental Assessment, with a Finding of No Significant Impact in association with the proposed actions. Should significant issues be identified in regard to the proposed actions, a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) will be developed.

This meeting is 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 March 3, 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 Council’s 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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