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Further characterizations of fishing-dependent communities and approaches/data needs to assess the regulatory impacts on these communities are found in Section 7 and are incorporated herein by reference.

4.0AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT

Section 1502.15 of the CEQ regulations states “environmental impact statements shall succinctly describe the area(s) to be affected or created by the alternatives under consideration.”  The following is description of the physical, biological, economic, social, and administrative environments affected by this action.

4.1 Physical Environment

The physical environment for shrimp has been described in detail in the EIS for the Generic Essential Fish Habitat Amendment and is incorporated here by reference (GMFMC 2004a).  The GOM has a total area of 564,000 km2 (218,000 sq. mi.).  It is a semi-enclosed, oceanic basin connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Straits of Florida and to the Caribbean Sea by the Yucatan Channel.  Oceanic conditions are primarily affected by the Loop Current, the discharge of freshwater into the Northern Gulf, and a semi-permanent, anticyclonic gyre in the western Gulf.  Gulf water temperatures range from 12º C to 29º C (54º F to 84º F) depending on time of year and depth of water.  In the GOM, adult red snapper are found in submarine gullies and depressions; over coral reefs, rock outcrops, and gravel bottoms; and are associated with oilrigs and other artificial structures (GMFMC, 2004a).  Adult penaeid shrimp are found in nearshore and offshore silt, mud, and sand bottoms while juveniles are found inhabiting estuaries.

Environmental Sites of Special Interest Relevant to Red Snapper and Penaeid Shrimp

Cooperative Texas Shrimp Closure (Figure 4.1) – A shrimp nursery ground off Texas cooperatively closed by the Council and the state of Texas for 45 to 60 days out to either 15 or 200 miles.  The closure results in shrimp growing to approximately 39 count/pound (5,474 square nautical miles).

Tortugas Shrimp Sanctuary (Figure 4.2)- A shrimp nursery ground in the Florida Keys permanently closed to use of trawls and harvest or possession of shrimp.  Results in shrimp growing to about 47 count/pound before harvest (3,652 square nautical miles).

Southwest Florida Seasonal Closure (Shrimp/Stone Crab) (Figure 4.1) - Closure of federal and state waters to shrimping from November 1 through May 20 inshore of the line to protect juvenile stone crab and prevent loss of stone crab traps in trawls (4,051 square nautical miles).

Central Florida Shrimp/StoneCrab Separation Zones (Figure 4.3) - Closure of state and federal waters to either shrimping or crabbing from October 5 to May 20.  Crab or shrimp fishing alternate in Zones IV and V (174 square nautical miles).

Longline/Buoy Gear Area Closure (Figure 4.1) - Permanent closure to use of these gears for reef fish harvest inshore of 20 fathoms off the Florida shelf and inshore of 50 fathoms for the remainder of the Gulf (72,300 square nautical miles).

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