The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional Fishery Management Councils established by the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. The Council prepares fishery management plans designed to manage fishery resources from where state waters end, out to the 200-mile limit of the Gulf of Mexico. These waters are also known as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The Council consists of 17 voting members: the Southeast Regional Administrator of NMFS (or his designee), the directors of the five Gulf state marine resource management agencies (or their designees), and 11 members who are nominated by the state governors and appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. Appointments are three-year terms with a maximum of three consecutive terms. In addition, there are four nonvoting members representing the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of State, and the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission.
The Council meets five times a year at various locations around the Gulf coast. Prior to taking final action on any proposed rule change public hearings are held throughout the Gulf. Public testimony is also heard during the meeting at which final action is scheduled. Proposed rule changes are then submitted to NMFS for further review and approval before implementation.
When reviewing potential rule changes, the Council draws upon the services of knowledgeable people from other state and federal agencies, universities, and the public, who serve on panels and committees.