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 

NOTICE OF REEF FISH ADVISORY PANEL MEETING VIA CONFERENCE CALL

Tampa, Florida - September 7, 2005 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene the Reef Fish Advisory Panel (AP) via Conference Call to review a Regulatory Amendment to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan. This Regulatory Amendment will address measures to set commercial trip limits for deep-water and shallow-water grouper to extend the fishing season into December, 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 National Marine Fisheries Service (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 meeting will be held via conference call on September 30, 2005 at 11:00 a.m. and conclude no later than 2:00 p.m. Listening stations will be available at the following locations: 

Although other non-emergency issues not on the agenda may come before the AP for discussion, in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (M-SFCMA), those issues may not be the subject of formal action during these meetings. Actions of the AP 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 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 Amendment and related materials can be obtained by calling the Council office at 813.348.1630. The meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Dawn Aring at the Council office at least 5 working days prior to the meeting date.

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 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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