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 23 (VERMILION SNAPPER REBUILDING PLAN)

Tampa, Florida - June 23, 2004 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold its July 12-15, 2004 meeting at the Omni Houston Hotel, 4 Riverway, Houston, Texas and will take public testimony on the Reef Fish Amendment 23 (Vermilion Snapper Rebuilding Plan) and Exempted Fishing Permits (if available). Public testimony is scheduled on Wednesday, July 14, 2004, starting at 9:15 a.m. Persons testifying must register before the start of the testimony period.

The meeting will begin on Monday, July 12, 2004 at 1:00 p.m. with the Shrimp Management Committee convening to review the public hearing draft of Shrimp Amendment 13 that includes alternatives for setting maximum sustainable yield (MSY), optimum yield (OY), overfishing, overfished definitions for shrimp, and also includes alternatives for evaluating shrimp trawl bycatch. The committee will also receive presentations by NOAA Enforcement on a case study of illegal shrimp trawling in the Gulf and by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on the status of Gulf shrimp stocks.

At 3:30 p.m. the Joint Reef fish/Mackerel Management Committee will convene to review both the public hearing draft of Reef Fish Amendment 24 and Mackerel Amendment 15 that proposes creating a limited access system for both of these fisheries. The joint committee will also review public comments on a Scoping Document for an Amendment for the Extension of the Charter Vessel/Headboat Permit Moratorium. Finally, the joint committee will discuss problems with implementation of the current moratorium and possible actions.

On Tuesday, July 13, 2004 the Joint Personnel/Administrative Policy Committee will convene in a session closed to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to revise the Councilís Statement of Practices and Procedures (SOPPs) and the Administrative Handbook of Policies and Procedures which regulates personnel.

The Mackerel Management Committee will meet beginning at 1:00 p.m. to review the Options Paper for Mackerel Amendment 16 and review actions of the Joint South Atlantic/Gulf Council Mackerel Management Committee meeting that was held in June. The committee will receive a presentation on the National Mercury Working Group Report.

The Reef Fish Management Committee will meet from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to review public comments and recommend final action on the Final Reef Fish Amendment 23 (vermilion snapper rebuilding plan) that contains alternatives for arresting overfishing of that stock by commercial and recreational fishermen. The committee will also review and revise the Draft Scoping Document for the Red Snapper Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) System that will be presented at hearings in August. The committee will also receive a report on the status of grouper landings for 2004 and may take action accordingly.

Beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday July 14, 2004 the Council will receive a report on provisions of the NMFS Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Amendment 2 and may develop recommendations.

The Council will act on committee recommendations on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning followed by agency reports.

Although other non-emergency issues not on the agendas may come before the Council and Committees for discussion, in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during these meetings. Actions of the Council and Committees will be restricted to those issues specifically identified in the agendas and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under Section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, provided the public has been notified of the Council's intent to take action to address the emergency. The established times for addressing items on the agenda may be adjusted as necessary to accommodate the untimely completion of discussion relevant to other agenda items. In order to further allow for such adjustments and completion of all items on the agenda, the meeting may be extended from or completed prior to the date established in this notice. A copy of the committee schedule and Council 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 July 2, 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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