January 23, 2008

Council plans series of public scoping meetings in February

From Marathon to Manteo, fishermen who fish in federal waters along the South Atlantic coast should plan to attend one of a series of public scoping meetings/workshops planned by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council in February.  These informal scoping meetings/workshops provide the public an opportunity to weigh in on several fisheries issues before the Council determines if management actions are warranted.

These issues include options for determining allocations of fisheries between recreational and commercial sectors, as well as allocations within these sectors.  For example, recreational allocations may be considered between for-hire (charter and headboats) and private recreational fishermen.  For the commercial sector, allocations may be considered based on gear types.  Other issues open for scoping include possible amendments to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan that will establish annual catch limits (ACLs) for species undergoing overfishing as outlined in the reauthorized Magnuson Stevens Act.  These ACLs may lead to further restrictions on certain fisheries.  Additionally, the council is soliciting public comment on the establishment of a limited access privilege program for the commercial snapper-grouper fishery, as well as input on the allocation of the commercial Atlantic king mackerel quota. 

While the council has held public scoping meetings in the past, this series is unique in that several members of the council staff and local council representatives will be on hand to hold informal round table discussions in a workshop format, answer questions, and provide participants with information regarding the scoping topics and other issues addressed by the council. 

The meetings/workshops will be open from 2 until 5 p.m. and again from 6 until 8 p.m.  Council staff and members will be available during these hours for informal discussions, and members of the public can provide formal comments for consideration during these time periods. 

The Council is also accepting written comments on these issues until 5 p.m. on Feb. 22.  Copies of the public scoping documents with details on how to submit written comments on each topic are available by contacting the council office and will be posted on the council’s Web site at www.safmc.net as they become available.  The scoping documents contain additional background information on these individual issues and will be helpful in preparing for the scoping meetings. 

The public is encouraged to take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn first hand about current federal fisheries issues, discuss details with council members and staff, and provide comments.  The information and recommendations provided by the public will be instrumental in determining the future course of fishery management decisions. 

South Atlantic Fishery Management Council
Public Scoping Meeting Dates and Locations

Monday, February 4, 2008
The Mutiny Hotel
2951 South Bayshore Drive
Coconut Grove, Florida  33133
Phone: 305-441-2100

Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Radisson Resort at the Port
8701 Astronaut Boulevard
Cape Canaveral, Florida  32920
Phone: 321-784-0000

Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Quality Inn – Stellar Conference Center
125 Venure Drive
Brunswick, Georgia  31525
Phone: 912-265-4600

Thursday, February 7, 2008
Sheraton New Bern
100 Middle Street
New Bern, North Carolina 28560
Phone: 252-638-3585

Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Hilton Garden Inn
5265 International Blvd.
North Charleston, South Carolina 29418
Phone: 843-308-9331

The next meeting of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is scheduled for
March 3-7 in Jekyll Island, Ga.

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