Min-Kota Fisheries receives $12,500 grant

Min-Kota Fisheries, Inc., of Philip, South Dakota, will receive a grant of $12,500 from USDA Rural Development. The funds are awarded under the Value-Added Agricultural Product Market Development Program and will be used to evaluate the feasibility of marketing organically raised tilapia, a delicacy fish.

Rural Development Value-Added grants are offered to commodity producers who refine their products to increase their value.

"This research funding will help Min-Kota stay at the forefront of aquaculture," Senator Tom Daschle said. "It's important that small businesses in South Dakota have access to research and development capital that will allow them to take advantage of emerging markets."

Min-Kota Fisheries is managed by Pat Seager of Philip, SD.

Min-Kota Fisheries raises tilapia inside a series of greenhouses. These greenhouses with an area of 114 ft. by 300 ft. were originally constructed to raise vegetables and flowers. They are now used to raise juvenile fish for shipment to Minnesota, where the fish are then raised to maturity and sold as fresh fillets.

There are nine lined earth ponds, 20 ft. by 100 ft. by 35. ft deep. These ponds, kept at 92º to 94° F, are the brood ponds where the very young fish (fry) are first raised after birth. After about a week, the small fish are transferred to sixteen 600-gallon concrete tanks. These tanks are kept at 82 to 84° F. After about 30 days in these tanks, the fingerlings are shipped to Minnesota where they are raised to adult size. The fingerlings, at this time, average 1.5 to 2 inches long and weigh 0.035 to 0.105 oz (1 to 3 grams) each.

When at maturity, the fish sell at the current market price by the pound live and for more per pound as fillets.