Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill; Proposal of Future Early Restoration Projects and Environmental Reviews

The federal and state natural resource trustees for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (Trustees) intend to propose the additional early restoration projects described below to continue the process of using early restoration funding to restore natural resources, ecological services, and human use services injured or lost as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. All early restoration projects will be selected and implemented in accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), the Framework Agreement for Early Restoration Addressing Injuries Resulting from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (Framework Agreement), and all applicable legal requirements, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

In addition to the early restoration projects identified below, the Trustees will continue to identify potential additional early restoration projects. Those projects will be subject to early restoration planning. Ultimately, all early restoration plans will be incorporated into a single, comprehensive OPA Restoration Plan/Environmental Impact Statement, which will address natural resource damages resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

    The additional early restoration projects that the Trustees presently intend to propose are described below.

Standing, Special Mackerel, and Special Reef Fish Scientific and Statistical Committees to Meet

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council's Standing, Special Mackerel, and Special Reef Fish Scientific and Statistical Committees will meet May 29 - 31, 2013, at the Renaissance International Plaza Hotel, 4200 Jim Walter Boulevard in Tampa, Florida. The meeting will begin at 8:30am Wednesday and will adjourn no later than noon Friday.

 

During that time, the SSC will: 

  • receive a presentation on SEDAR 31 - red snapper benchmark assessment; 
  • determine whether to accept the assessment;
  • recommend acceptable biological catch for red snapper (if the assessment is accepted) that is consistent with the rebuilding plan.

 

Coastal Migratory Pelagics Advisory Panel Meeting

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will convene a meeting of the Coastal Migratory Pelagics Advisory Panel.

The meeting will convene at 8:30 a.m. and conclude by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15, 2013.

Gulf Council Seeks Applicants for Panels and Committees

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is currently recruiting applicants for the following panels and committees:

  • Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) Advisory Panel
  • Special Coral Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC)
  • Special Mackerel SSC
  • Coral Advisory Panel
  • SEDAR Workshop Pool 

Membership provides individuals with an opportunity to become more directly involved in the management decision-making process. Anyone interested in serving should submit a letter of interest to the Council office indicating the committee and/or panel of interest. Please include a current resumé or description of qualifications.

Fishing Season for Red Snapper in South Atlantic?

NMFS proposes regulations to implement Amendment 28 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP), as prepared by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council). If implemented, this rule would establish a process for determining whether the limited harvest and possession of red snapper in or from the South Atlantic exclusive economic zone (EEZ) could occur during a given fishing year and establish a process for setting commercial and recreational fishing seasons for red snapper beginning in 2013.

The rule would establish a 1-fish per person recreational bag limit and would also remove the 20-inch, total length (TL), minimum size limit for both the commercial and recreational sectors to decrease regulatory discards.

 

Regulated Navigation Area in the Mississippi Canyon Block 20

The Coast Guard is establishing a Regulated Navigation Area (RNA) in the Mississippi Canyon Block 20 in the Gulf of Mexico. This RNA is needed to protect the subsurface monitoring and collection dome system above a leaking wellhead from the potential hazards of vessels anchoring, mooring or loitering on or near the oil and gas discharge area. Deviation from this rule is prohibited unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port New Orleans, or his designated representative.

This rule is enforced with actual notice from April 4, 2013, until April 29, 2013. This rule is effective in the Code of Federal Regulations on April 29, 2013. Comments and related material must be received by the Coast Guard on or before July 29, 2013.

 

Gag & Greater Amberjack Stock Assessments to Begin

The SEDAR 33 assessment of the Gulf of Mexico stocks of gag and greater amberjack will consist of: a Data Workshop; an Assessment process conducted via webinars; and a Review Workshop. 

The Data Workshop will be held from 1 p.m. on Monday, May 20, 2013 until 12 p.m. on Friday, May 24, 2013 in Tampa, FL. The Assessment Workshop will take place via webinar on the following dates in 2013: 

July 22; July 29; August 5; August 14; August 21; August 28; September 4; September 11; September 18; September 25; October 2; and October 9. All webinars will begin at 1 p.m. eastern time (ET) and will last approximately four hours. The Review Workshop will take place from 1 p.m. on Monday, November 18, 2013 until 12 p.m. on Thursday, November 21, 2013 in Miami, FL.  

 

Grouper Fishing Reopens May 1 in Atlantic, Monroe County Waters

Anglers targeting grouper in Florida state waters of the Atlantic, including Monroe County, will be able to take some of their catch home starting May 1, when the season reopens to harvest. Species included in the recreational and commercial opening are gag, black, red, yellowmouth, yellowfin and tiger grouper; scamp; red hind; rock hind; coney; and graysby. State waters in the Atlantic are from shore to 3 miles out.

The harvest of these species of grouper will remain open until Jan. 1, 2014. The harvest closure was put in place to ensure the long-term sustainability of Atlantic grouper species.

Florida Bay County Fishing Opportunities Expanded

 

The Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association, which is one of the most active nonprofit artificial reef organizations in the state, on behalf of the city of Mexico Beach, just completed the oversight and management of a significant expansion to several existing artificial reef sites off Bay County. The old phrase “if you build it, they will come” could not be more applicable, and the cities of Mexico Beach, Port St. Joe, recreational anglers, charter captains and local businesses will be the ultimate beneficiaries.

 

Participate in FWC Clean Up Process of Fishery Regulations

 Marine fisheries rule cleanup webinars, call-in workshops planned for this week

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Division of Marine Fisheries Management will host two webinars/call-in workshops, April 22 and 24, to gather public input on the marine fisheries rule-cleanup process.