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Minaqua Fisheries pays license fee; court to dismiss citation

OLIVIA -- The president of Minaqua Fisheries Cooperative, of Renville, has paid the fees for aquatic fish farm licenses and satisfied a court order for a citation he had received for not purchasing the licenses since 2007.

Melburn Stocks of Willmar had been cited for a misdemeanor rule violation and appeared April 18 in District Court in Olivia.

Court records indicated that he was placed on probation with the single requirement that he pay the annual license fees of $210 and then the matter would be dismissed.

Stocks said the court had continued the matter for dismissal provided the license fees are paid, and had made no mention of probation. Prosecuting attorney Aaron Welch said that is his understanding of the agreement as well.

Welch said the court did not fine Stocks for not having obtained aquatic fish farm licenses due to consideration of a number of factors. He had not been notified during the previous four years of the need to do so.

And, the operation poses no danger to public waters.

Stocks said he had not had any contact from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources regarding the annual license or any other matters regarding the fish farming operation in the past four years.

Minaqua is one of two fish farms in the state raising tilapia.

The cooperative is questioning the need for a DNR license, since it believes the operation should be considered a farm. The tilapia it raises cannot survive in Minnesota waters, Stocks noted.

It is required to purchase a $210 annual license and a $15 tank fee by the DNR, he said.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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