The state of Illinois has started a campaign to encourage more people to eat the invasive carp fish. This project is an effort to save local species that have been threatened since its introduction in the 1960s to remove algae from the Deep South sewage lagoons, and escape into the Mississippi River and Great Lakes.

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The campaign aims at changing the name of the carp species to “copi,” in an effort to encourage more eaters, claiming that most people avoid carp fish because of its tainted name rather than its taste. 

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“The ‘carp’ name is so harsh that people won’t even try it,” said Kevin Irons, assistant fisheries chief with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “But it’s healthy, clean and it really tastes pretty darn good.”

Dubbed the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the program will receive an investment of $600,000 over the next five years. Officials are aiming at making the fish widely available in restaurants with more than two dozen distributers, retailers and processors recruited nationwide.

John Goss, an Obama administration official who led efforts on carp invasion, says that this approach could be a solution. “This could be a tremendous breakthrough,” said Goss. “The next couple of years are very critical for building confidence and acceptance.”

The name “copi” was branded by Chicago-based communication and design company Span. It’s an abbreviation for “copious,” in reference to the booming population of the four species of invasive carp: bighead, grass, silver, and black carp.

The proposed name change will remain relatively informal. The American Society of Ichthyologists and the Herpetologists and the American Fisheries Society have never recognized the term “invasive carp” and are less likely to recognize “copi.” In the same way, the US Fish and Wildlife Services will not be adopting the name “copi.” 

Regulators have already spent over $600 million in attempts to keep the carp out of the Great Lake region and other waters. Unfortunately, most of the strategies employed have not worked, including electric barriers and harvesting fish for products such as fertilizer and pet food, among others.

Via ABC News

Lead image via Pexels