Jun 23, 2022 - News

Asian carp renamed "copi" to encourage its consumption

Fish
A bighead carp at the Shedd Aquarium. Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune via Getty Images

The hated Asian carp, a fish that has been terrorizing Illinois waterways for more than a decade, was rechristened yesterday as "copi."

Why it matters: These ravenous invaders now comprise about 70% of the biomass of the Illinois River.

  • State conservation officials want to reduce that to less than 20% while preventing the fish from entering Lake Michigan.

The intrigue: One of the best ways to achieve this is by eating the sustainably sourced fish.

  • And the Illinois Department of Natural Resources believes a name change might succeed where previous campaigns have flopped.

Flashback: Renamings have done wonders for the edible reputation of other fish, including:

  • Slimehead → orange roughy
  • Patagonian toothfish → Chilean sea bass
  • Dolphinfish → mahi-mahi

Context: Unlike common carp, these fish — including bighead, silver and grass carp — are not bottom feeders but top feeders full of healthful omega-3s.

  • Copi are eaten all over the world, including in China.

Between the lines: The team responsible for the name said at a press conference that they chose "copi" in part because of its copious numbers.

  • Bonus: It was free of copyright issues and negative cultural connotations.
  • In case you're wondering, the plural of "copi" is ... "copi."

The other side: The Alliance for the Great Lakes says that eating copi will not fix the problem.

  • "The state must keep its eye on the long game and focus on building protections at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam that are essential to keeping invasive carp from reaching Lake Michigan," vice president for programs Molly Flanagan tells Axios.

Where to find it: The new website ChooseCopi.com lists restaurants and markets that sell and serve the fish, including:

Hot takes: We asked our smart-aleck followers for their ideas on alternative tasty names and got a boatful:

🎸 Lin B.: Jumpin' jackfish

🇺🇸 Phil V.: Freedom fish

🏛 Steven T.: Lori Lightfish

🍾 Mike G.: Malortfish

🦞 Roxie M.: Chicago lobster

🕵🏼‍♂️ Patricia O.: Al Carpone

🌶 Micheline M.: Sriracha fish

🐓 Sara B.: Chicken of the lake

😋 Tim T.: Carp-o-licious

🏬 Andy P.: Carpon Pirie Scott

🌮 Chuy P.: Alta fish tacos

🍸 Sam T.: White claw carp

🛶 Susan D.: Boat floppers

🍳 Douglas B.: Silver pan flyers

👐 Matthew G.: Flying BOGO

🍕 Andy P.: Deep dish fish

🔥 Monica E.: Flamin' hot carpo

🍗 Justin K.: Chicken

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