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Press Release: Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council


Tampa, Florida - November 8, 1999 - In the Gulf region there are presently about 1,286 charter vessels and 91 headboats. This represents an estimated 32 percent increase in the number of charter vessels and a 6 percent decrease in the number headboats between 1988 and 1998. Additionally, the number of charter vessel trips has increased 187 percent between 1988 and 1997.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) is considering implementation of a temporary moratorium on the issuance of charter vessel/headboat permits to fish the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for reef fish and coastal migratory pelagics (mackerel) fish. A moratorium, if adopted, would provide a basis for the development of a more comprehensive effort limitation program for this segment of the recreational fishery that could provide better long-term control of fishing effort. 

The moratorium proposed in this amendment considers 7 features: 1) the duration of the moratorium; 2) initial eligibility requirements for permit; 3) permit transfers during the moratorium; 4) vessel size for permit transfer; 5) the reissuance of permits not renewed; 6) an appeal process; and 7) vessel reporting. At present, the Council has suggested as preferred alternatives: * Establish a 3-year moratorium * That initial eligibility requirements be all persons holding permits on September 16, 1999 are eligible; * Permit transfers during the moratorium be allowed between 1) vessels owned by the permit holder and 2) individuals without transfer of the vessel; * Reissuance of permits not renewed (or permanently revoked) will not be reissued by NMFS during the moratorium.

The Council did not select preferred alternatives for: 1) vessel size restriction on permit transfers; 2) the appeals process under moratorium; or 3) vessel reporting requirements.
Public hearings for the Draft Charter Vessel/Headboat Permit Moratorium Amendment will be held at the following locations and dates from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., unless otherwise listed. In addition, public testimony will be accepted at the Gulf Council meeting in Fort Walton Beach, Florida on January 19, 2000. 
Monday, December 6, 1999 Port Isabel Community Center 213 Yturria Port Isabel, TX 78578

Monday, December 6, 1999
Harvey Government Center
1200 Truman Avenue
Key West, Florida 33040

Tuesday, December 7, 1999
Port Aransas Civic Center Auditorium
710 West Avenue A
Port Aransas, TX 78373

Tuesday, December 7, 1999
Naples Depot Civic Cultural Center
1051 Fifth Avenue South
Naples, FL 34102

Wednesday, December 8, 1999
Texas A&M Auditorium 
200 Seawolf Parkway 
Galveston, TX 77553 

Wednesday, December 8, 1999
City Hall Auditorium
300 Municipal Drive
Madeira Beach, FL 33708

Thursday, December 9, 1999
Larose Regional Park 
2001 East 5th Street 
Larose, LA 70373

Monday, December 13, 1999
--6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.--
J. L. Scott Marine Education Center & Aquarium
115 East Beach Blvd., US Hwy. 90
Biloxi, MS 39530 

Tuesday, December 14, 1999
Hilton Beachfront Garden Inn
23092 Perdido Beach Boulevard
Orange Beach, Alabama 36561

Wednesday, December 15, 1999
--6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.--
Gulf Coast Community College
Student Union East Building
Gibson Lecture Hall (2nd Floor)
5230 West Highway 98
Panama City, Florida 32401

Written comments will be accepted on the draft amendment if received by January 3, 2000. A copy of the draft amendment can be obtained by calling 813-228-2815.
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 November 29, 1999.

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 Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council prepares fishery management plans that are designed to manage fishery resources in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. 

--- Gulf Council Press Release

Visit the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council web site at http://www.gulfcouncil.org 

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