What's in a name? Illinois trying to make invasive Asian carp fish more palatable
The midwestern part of the United States of America has a severe problem with invasive carp threatening the ecosystem. The state of Illinois hopes to have the answer that'll solve this decades-old issue; a rebranding.
“We’ve launched a new name, "copi", to help people consume this delicious fish and help us do our work in keeping them out of the waterways," said Kevin Irons, assistant chief of fisheries for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, or DNR.
Irons and the Illinois DNR want everyone to start calling the fish formerly known as Asian carp, "copi", in hopes it will entice more Americans to eat the abundant fish.
“Names mean something," said Irons. "Back in the 70s, there was a fish called “slimehead”, under-utilized, but when you go to a restaurant and get orange ruffi, everybody’s like, ‘oh, it's awesome.’ So, a name means something and it’s the same fish. So, copi’s going to help us transition from something that’s maybe negatively perceived and give it a positive space.”
The state of Illinois even launched a new website, choosecopi.com, where facts, nutritional information and recipes for the fish are provided.
“Anything you do with ground meat you can do with copi," said Dirk Fucik, owner of Dirk's Fish and Gourmet Shop in Chicago, Illinois. "So, burgers are most popular for us here, but we bolognese, meatballs, we’ve done sausage, tacos, all that kind of stuff. Everything we’ve made people like.”
Fucik says he's been selling Asian carp, or copi, in his store since 2010.
“If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em," said Fucik. “There’s like, 20 million pounds of copi in Illinois rivers. It’s one of the reasons the name is copious, there are copious amounts of copi out there -- so we should all eat it."
Since 2004, over $600 million in state and federal funds have been fed into the fixing invasive carp issue.
“This fish is delicious, it compares well with any fish we currently consume," said Irons. "Actually, silver carp are top water feeders, they eat plankton. They have the best micronutrients out there.”
Irons says the state of Illinois also intends to ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to formally change the name and is planning to register "copi" as a trademark.