This is a publication of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council pursuant to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Award No. NA05NMF4410003.

Gulf Council logoNEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: IMMEDIATELY
CONTACT: STU KENNEDY - 813.228.2815 

PUBLIC HEARING SCHEDULED ON THE RED GROUPER REGULATORY AMENDMENT

Tampa, Florida - August 16, 2005 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene a public hearing to solicit comments on a Regulatory Amendment to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan to set Commercial and Recreational Management Measures for Grouper. Proposed measures include setting grouper trip limits for the commercial fishery, reducing recreational red grouper harvest in the Gulf of Mexico, and minimizing associated impacts on gag and other groupers.

This Regulatory Amendment will address measures to set commercial trip limits for deep-water and shallow-water grouper to extend the fishing season through December each year, reduce recreational red grouper harvest in the Gulf of Mexico, and minimize associated impacts on gag and other groupers. Secretarial Amendment 1 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan of the Gulf of Mexico established a rebuilding plan and 6.56 million pounds of gutted weight allowable biological catch for red grouper. During 2003 and 2004, recreational red grouper landings exceeded the 1.25 million pounds gutted weight recreational allocation and during 2004, commercial fishing was closed on November 15 because the commercial quota was reached. In March 2005, the NMFS implemented an emergency rule to set trip limits but they will expire in February 2006 unless continued through this regulatory amendment. In July 2005, the NMFS implemented an interim rule to reduce the 2005 recreational red grouper harvest to levels in Secretarial Amendment 1 but they will expire in January 2006 unless continued through this regulatory amendment. The purpose of this regulatory amendment is to adjust regulatory management measures for the Gulf of Mexico red grouper fishery. New or adjusted management measures are needed if the Council intends to reduce the adverse socioeconomic effects of derby fishing in the commercial fishery, return recreational landings to levels specified in the red grouper rebuilding plan, and prevent or minimize impacts on gag and other groupers resulting from more restrictive recreational red grouper regulations.

The hearing will begin at 6 p.m. and conclude no later than 10:30 p.m. at the following location:

Wednesday, September 7, 2005
Best Western - The Westshore Hotel
1200 North Westshore Boulevard
Tampa, Florida 33607
813.282.3636

A copy of the Amendment and related materials can be obtained by calling the Council office at 813.348.1630.

The meetings are 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 August 29, 2005.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is one of 8 regional fishery management councils that were established by the M-SFCMA of 1976, as amended. The Council prepares fishery management plans that are designed to manage fishery resources in 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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