Great Lakes' Asian Carp Receives New Name, Illinois Officials Announce

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The Asian carp, a fish commonly found in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River system, has received a new name from the State of Illinois.

The Asian carp will has been renamed "Copi," which Illinois officials said is intended to address public misconceptions about the top-feeding fish running through Midwest waterways.

“Enjoying Copi in a restaurant or at home is one of the easiest things people can do to help protect our waterways and Lake Michigan,” said John Goss, former White House invasive carp adviser. “As home to the largest continuous link between Lake Michigan and the Copi-filled Mississippi River system, Illinois has a unique responsibility in the battle to keep invasive carp out of the Great Lakes. I’m proud of Illinois, its partners and other states for rising to this challenge.”

"Copi" plays off the word "copious," a release said, resembling how vast these fish are in the area. According to officials, 20-50 million pounds of Copy can be harvested from the Illinois River alone each year, with hundreds of millions more found from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast.

“Copi is a great name: Short, crisp and easy to say. What diner won’t be intrigued when they read Copi tacos or Copi burgers on a menu?” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan. “It’s a tasty fish that’s easy to work with in the kitchen and it plates beautifully. Every time we’ve offered samples during the Illinois State Fair, people have walked away floored by how delicious it is.”

Asian carp will officially change to "Copi" by the end of the year, in partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Other fish have also received name changes -- Orange roughy was originally called "slimehead" and Chilean sea bass was known as "Patagonian toothfish." Aside from fish, exporters introduced Chinese gooseberries as "kiwi."

“Among the requirements to win federal approval for a name change is widespread use of the name, which is another reason why today’s event is so important,” said Kevin Irons, the assistant fisheries chief for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, who specializes in invasive species. “So there is one thing that everyone can do to help save the Great Lakes: Call the fish Copi.”

Until federal regulators approve the name change, the grocery store packaging will describe the fish as carp and Copi.

The Copi fish was originally from Southeast Asia and imported to the U.S. to "help keep clean fish farm retention ponds in Southern states," a release said. However, flooding and accidental releases in the 1970s allowed the fish to escape, multiply and migrate up the Mississippi River system.

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