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: AS APPROPRIATE
CONTACT: WAYNE E. SWINGLE - 813.348.1630

PUBLIC HEARINGS ON REEF FISH AMENDMENT 26 (RED SNAPPER IFQ) AND SCOPING MEETINGS FOR A JOINT REEF FISH AND SHRIMP AMENDMENT ADDRESSING BYCATCH, SHRIMPING EFFORT, SHRIMP VESSEL MONITORING, AND SHRIMP PERMIT TRANSFERABILITY

Tampa, Florida - September 20, 2005 - The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold public hearings to solicit comments on draft Amendment 26 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) that contains alternatives to establish an individual fishing quota (IFQ) program for the commercial red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico that has been declared to be overfished and undergoing overfishing. The IFQ program is being considered to address existing and emerging problems resulting from overcapitalization in this fishery while it recovers. Actions being considered as part of the IFQ program include: its duration, eligibility for shares, initial allocation of shares, potential caps and/or restrictions on shares, and transferability of shares. Other actions being considered include: whether or not shares must be used; how adjustments to the commercial quota will affect allocations and shares; the possible requirement of vessel monitoring systems (VMS) on participating vessels; and a cost recovery plan.

Following presentation and comments on Reef Fish Amendment 26, the Council will hold scoping meetings to receive comments on possible ways to reduce bycatch in the directed reef fish fishery and ways to further reduce bycatch in the shrimp fishery, particularly of red snapper. Other topics for scoping comments include: ways to further reduce effort in the shrimp fishery as needed; possibly requiring VMS on permitted shrimp vessels in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Gulf; and possible limits on transferability of federal shrimp vessel permits. The Council is soliciting public comment on these issues through these scoping meetings and by mail, e-mail, or facsimile.

All written comments must be received by the Council on or before November 10, 2005. Copies of both documents can be obtained by calling the Council at 813.348.1630 or by e-mail at gulfcouncil@gulfcouncil.org

The public hearings will be held beginning at 6 p.m. on Reef Fish Amendment 26 immediately followed by the Scoping Meeting for a Joint Shrimp Amendment 14/Reef Fish Amendment 27. The meetings will conclude no later than 10 p.m. at the following locations and dates:

Thursday, October 13, 2005
DoubleTree Grand Key Resort
3990 South Roosevelt Boulevard
Key West, Florida 33040
888.310.1540
Monday, October 24, 2005
Four Points by Sheraton
3777 North Expressway
Brownsville, Texas 78520
956.547.1500
Monday, October 17, 2005
National Marine Fisheries Service Laboratory
3500 Delwood Beach Road
Panama City, Florida 32408
850.234.6541
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Univ. of TX Marine Science Institute Auditorium
750 Channel View Drive
Port Aransas, Texas 78373
361.749.6711
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Hilton Garden Inn Orange Beach
23092 Perdido Beach Boulevard
Orange Beach, Alabama 36561
251.974.1600
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Holiday Inn Galveston
5002 Seawall Boulevard
Galveston, Texas 77550
409.740.3581
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Tampa Marriott Westshore
1001 North Westshore Boulevard
Tampa, Florida 33607
813.287.2555
Thursday, October 27, 2005
LSU Ag Center Office
7101 Gulf Highway
Lake Charles, Louisiana 70607
337.475.8812

These 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 October 3, 2005.  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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