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Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting

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National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.


Notice of public meeting.


The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will convene a public meeting via conference call of the Reef Fish Advisory Panel (AP) and Reef Fish Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC).


The AP meeting will be via conference call on August 26, 2002 beginning at 10 a.m. EST. The SSC meeting will be via conference call on August 28, 2002 beginning at 10 a.m. EST.


A listening station will be available at the following locations: NMFS Southeast Regional Office, 9721 Executive Center Drive, North, St. Petersburg, FL 33702, Contact: Joyce Mochrie at 727-570-5305; NMFS Pascagoula Laboratory, 3909 Frederic Street, Pascagoula, MS 39567, Contact: Cheryl Hinkel at 228-762-4591, ext. 267.

Council address: Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, 3018 U.S. Highway 301 North, Suite 1000, Tampa, FL 33619.

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Peter Hood, Fishery Biologist, Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council; telephone: 813-228-2815.

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The AP and SSC will be convened to review the Council's proposed Secretarial Amendment 2 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) to set greater amberjack Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA) targets and thresholds and to set a rebuilding plan. The AP and SSC will be convened via conference call beginning at 10 a.m. EST on August 26, 2002 and August 28, 2002, respectively. The greater amberjack resource in the Gulf of Mexico was declared overfished by NMFS on February 9, 2001 based on the 2000 greater amberjack stock assessment. The results of several analyses indicated that the stock biomass was below the level needed to sustain harvest at maximum sustainable yield (MSY), with the best estimate indicating that the stock biomass was at less than half the biomass needed to sustain MSY, below the minimum level allowed under the 1998 NMFS National Standard Guidelines. However, NMFS concluded that overfishing is not currently occurring due to the recent implementation of management measures that were not reflected in the stock assessment. These measures included: (1) a reduction in the greater amberjack recreational bag limit from 3 to 1 fish (implemented 1997); (2) a commercial closed season during March, April and May (implemented 1998); and (3) partial protection of misidentified juvenile greater amberjack by establishment of a slot limit on lesser amberjack/banded rudderfish of 14 and 22 inches fork length plus an aggregate 5-fish recreational bag limit. As a result of this finding, additional measures to end overfishing are not needed, but a plan to rebuild the stock is needed.

Because NMFS has declared the stock overfished, the Council is required to rebuild the stock to a level where it is no longer considered overfished. Before a plan can be put into effect, management targets and thresholds that the stock needs to achieve must be defined. These are: definitions for maximum sustainable yield (MSY), optimum yield (OY), the minimum stock size threshold (MSST) below which a stock is considered to be overfished, the maximum fishing mortality threshold (MFMT) above which a stock is considered to be undergoing overfishing. The proposed amendment also provides alternative rebuilding plans that will rebuild the stock within 10 years or less and are based on various rebuilding strategies.

A copy of the agenda can be obtained by contacting the Council (see ADDRESSES).

Although non-emergency issues not contained in the agenda may come before the AP/SSC for discussion, in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA), those issues may not be the subject of formal action during this meeting. Action will be restricted to those issues specifically identified in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under section 305 (c) of the MSFCMA, provided the public has been notified of the Council's intent to take final action to address the emergency.

Special Accommodations

The listening station is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Anne Alford at the Council (see ADDRESSES) by August 19, 2002.

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Dated: August 7, 2002.

Richard W. Surdi,

Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.

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[FR Doc. 02-20382 Filed 8-9-02; 8:45 am]