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Public Hearings Set for April 20-23, 2015; Council Seeking Public Input on Snapper and Grouper

Press Release South Atlantic Fishery Management Council



The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is holding the first round in a series of public hearings to solicit public input on areas that could be considered for designation as Spawning Special Management Zones (SMZs) in federal waters off the coasts of the Carolinas, Georgia, and the east coast of Florida. This will be the first round in a series of public hearings on measures in Snapper Grouper Amendment 36 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan. A second round in the series will be scheduled for August 2015.

Amendment Overview:

Includes alternatives to identify and protect important spawning habitat for snapper grouper species through the designation of Spawning SMZs.

Would specify a process for identifying spawning sites of snapper grouper species, including speckled hind and warsaw grouper, based on the characteristics of sites important for spawning such as bottom topography, current systems, etc.

Proposes to provide protection to designated areas by prohibiting anchoring in the areas and prohibiting fishing for or possession of species in the snapper grouper management unit.

Transit provisions would be made for the spawning SMZs and trolling for pelagic species such as tuna, dolphin, and wahoo would be allowed within the Spawning SMZs.

Eight sample sites are currently in the Amendment 36 Public Hearing Summary Document, including:

Malchase Wreck off of North Carolina,

"Devil's Hole" off the coast of South Carolina,

"Daytona Steeples" off the central east coast of Florida and "Warsaw Hole" in the Florida Keys.

The amendment also includes alternatives to reconfigure an existing Deepwater Marine Protected Area off the coast of Georgia and allows for the boundary of the Charleston Deep Artificial Reef MPA off the coast of South Carolina to be moved to accommodate recently deployed artificial reef material.

Participate in Public Hearings via Webinar or Public Comment Stations - Two Options for Participation

Option 1: Participate via webinar - The public can register for a live webinar and listen to Council staff present an overview of Amendment 36 and answer questions. Public comment will be accepted during the webinar. Webinar registration is required and registration links are available on the Public Hearing and Scoping Meeting page of the Council's website.

Participate by Webinar on April 20 - REGISTER HERE

· Participate by Webinar on April 21 - REGISTER HERE

Participate by Webinar on April 22 - REGISTER HERE

Participate by Webinar on April 23 - REGISTER HERE

Option 2:

Participate in person at a comment station -

Persons may also attend a hearing at specified public comment stations to listen to the webinar, ask questions, and provide comment. An area Council member will be present at each comment station to moderate questions and accept public comment. Comment station locations are listed below:

Monday, April 20 at 6:00 PM

(2 locations)

S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources

Marine Resources Research Institute Auditorium

217 Ft. Johnson Road

Charleston, SC 29422-2559

Holiday Inn Express

722 Highway 17

Little River, SC 29566

Tuesday, April 21 at 6:00 PM

NC Division of Marine Fisheries

Central District Office

5285 Highway 70 West

Morehead City, NC 28557

Wednesday, April 22 at 6:00 PM

(2 locations)

GA DNR Coastal Resources Division

One Conservation Way

Brunswick, GA 31520-8687

Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery

110 Hatchery Drive

Richmond Hill, GA 31324

Thursday, April 23 at 6:00 PM

Hampton Inn Daytona Speedway

1715 West International Speedway Blvd.

Daytona Beach, FL 32114

Wednesday, June 10 at 5:30 PM

(In conjunction with June Council meeting)

Doubletree Grand Key Resort,

3990 S. Roosevelt Blvd.,

Key West, FL 33040.

Can't Attend a Public Hearing? Submit a Written Comment

Written comments are also being accepted and must be submitted by 5:00 PM on May 1, 2015. Written comments can be submitted via:

Mail: Robert Mahood, SAFMC, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, North Charleston, SC 29405

FAX: 843/769-4520.

E-mail: Submit to mike.collins@safmc.net with a reference to "Snapper Grouper Amendment 36" included in the Subject line of the email. Written comments will be accepted until 5:00 PM on May 1, 2015.

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