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Proposed Rule

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council; Public Hearings

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Notice of public hearing; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold a public hearing to solicit comments on “Draft Amendment 3 for Addressing EFH Requirements, Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPCs), and Adverse Effects of Fishing in the Following Fishery Management Plans of the Gulf of Mexico: Shrimp, Red Drum, Reef Fish, Stone Crab, Coral and Coral Reef in the Gulf of Mexico and Spiny Lobster and the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic.” The Amendment contains proposed alternatives to further identify essential fish habitat (EFH), establish HAPCs, and, to the extent practicable, prevent adverse impacts of fishing activities on coral in HAPCs.

DATES:

The public hearing will be held January 4, 2005, beginning at 7 p.m. and concluding no later than 10 p.m. Public comments received by mail that are received in the Council office by 5 p.m., January 5, 2005, will be presented to the Council.

ADDRESSES:

The public hearing will be held at the DoubleTree Grand Key Resort, 3990 South Roosevelt Boulevard, Key West, FL 33040; phone: (888) 310-1540.

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

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Rick Leard, Deputy Executive Director, Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council; phone: (813) 228-2815.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Following the judicial decision in American Oceans Campaign v. Daley (Civil Action No. 99-982), NOAA Fisheries and the Council prepared an “Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Generic Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) Amendment to the Following Fishery Management Plans of the Gulf of Mexico: Shrimp, Red Drum, Reef Fish, Stone Crab, Coral and Coral Reef in the Start Printed Page 77174Gulf of Mexico and Spiny Lobster and the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic.” The EIS analyzes within each fishery a range of potential alternatives to: (1) describe and identify essential fish habitat for each fishery; (2) identify other actions to encourage the conservation and enhancement of such EFH; and (3) identify measures to minimize to the extent practicable any adverse effects of fishing on such EFH. Based on this EIS, the Council has subsequently developed “Draft Amendment 3 for Addressing EFH Requirements, Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPCs), and Adverse Effects of Fishing in the Following Fishery Management Plans of the Gulf of Mexico: Shrimp, Red Drum, Reef Fish, Stone Crab, Coral and Coral Reef in the Gulf of Mexico and Spiny Lobster and the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic.”

This 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 (see ADDRESSES) by December 28, 2004.

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Dated: December 17, 2004.

Alan D. Risenhoover,

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

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[FR Doc. 04-28129 Filed 12-23-04; 8:45 am]

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