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: STU KENNEDY  

PUBLIC HEARINGS ON REEF FISH AMENDMENT 23 (VERMILION SNAPPER REBUILDING PLAN) AND SCOPING HEARINGS FOR A CHARTER VESSEL/HEADBOAT PERMIT MORATORIUM EXTENSION SCHEDULED

Tampa, Florida - May 17, 2004 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold public hearings to solicit comments on draft Amendment 23 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) that contains alternatives for the vermilion snapper population in the Gulf of Mexico that was declared to be overfished and undergoing overfishing on October 30, 2003. The Council has one year from that date to develop a plan to end overfishing and rebuild the stock. The Amendment specifies alternatives to set status determination criteria and biological reference points that determine when overfishing has ended and the vermilion snapper stock is no longer overfished. Alternatives that establish a plan to end overfishing and rebuild the stock include 10-year and 7-year rebuilding plans and harvest reduction measures that change size limits, bag limits, trip limits, or specify quotas or seasonal closures.

Following presentation and comment on Reef Fish Amendment 23, the Council will present the scoping document for the extension of the moratorium on the issuance of additional charter vessel/headboat permits. The rule creating the moratorium on the issuance of the permits was implemented through Amendment 14 to the Coastal Migratory Pelagic FMP and Amendment 20 to the Reef Fish FMP effective June 16, 2003 for a 3-year period (68 FR 26230). The scoping document presents alternatives for consideration and comment by the public for allowing the permit moratorium to expire at the end of the 3-year period or to extend the moratorium period by another 3 to 6 years. The rationale for alternatives for extension of the moratorium is that during the extended period the Council would consider a more complex limited access system for the charter vessel/headboat fishery. If the Council were to determine the more complex system was needed then additional time would be necessary to develop and implement an amendment for that purpose. The Council is soliciting public comment on these issues through the scoping hearings and by mail.

All written comments must be received by the Council on or before July 1, 2004. Copies of both documents can be obtained by calling the Council at 813-228-2815 or by e-mail at gulfcouncil@gulfcouncil.org

The public hearings will be held beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Reef Fish Amendment 23 immediately followed by the Charter Vessel Permit Moratorium concluding no later than 10:00 p.m. at the following locations and dates:

Monday, June 7, 2004 
Naples Depot Civic Cultural Center 
(Windisch Room)
1051 5th Avenue South 
Naples, FL  34102 
239-262-1776
Wednesday, June 9, 2004
City of Madeira Beach
300 Municipal Drive
Madeira Beach, FL  33702
727-391-9951
Monday, June 21, 2004 
New Orleans Airport Hilton 
901 Airline Drive 
Kenner, Louisiana  70062 
504-469-5000
Monday, June 28, 2004
Laguna Madre Learning Center
Port Isabel High School
Highway 100
Port Isabel, TX  78578
956-943-0052
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
MS Department of Marine Resources
1141 Bayview Drive
Biloxi, Mississippi  39530
228-374-5000
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Port Aransas Community Center
408 N Alister
Port Aransas, TX  78373
361-749-4111
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Perdido Beach Resort
27200 Perdido Beach Boulevard
Orange Beach, Alabama  36561
251-981-9811
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
San Luis Resort
5222 Seawall Boulevard
Galveston Island, TX  77551
409-740-8616
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Destin Community Center
101Stahlman Avenue
Destin, Florida  32541
850-654-5184
 

The 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 May 28, 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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