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TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) – You’re in the mood for fish and your server suggests a dish of invasive carp. And, you could say. But what about the roasted copy, fresh from the Mississippi River?
Here’s the shot: They’re the same.
Illinois and fellow organizations launched a market-tested campaign on Wednesday to re-baptize “copy” four species formerly known as Asian beavers, hoping the new label will make them more attractive to US consumers.
Making carp a popular item on the home and restaurant menu is a way officials hope to prevent a decade -long invasion that threatens native fish, lentils and aquatic plants in Mississippi and others. other rivers in the Midwestern, as well as the Great Lakes.
“The‘ carp ’name is so bad that people don’t even try it,” said Kevin Irons, assistant fisheries chief at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “But it’s healthy, clean and it’s very tasty.”
The federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is funding a five-year, $ 600,000 project to rebrand carp and make it widely available. More than two dozen distributors, processors, restaurants and retailers signed up. Most are in Illinois, but some deliver to multiple states or across the country.
“This could be a huge success,” said John Goss, who led the Obama administration’s effort to stop the carp invasion and worked on renaming the project. “The next couple of years are very critical for building trust and acceptance.”
Span, a Chicago -based communications design company, made a “copy.” It’s an abbreviated play on the word “many”-a reference to the growing population of bighead, silver, grass and black carp in the U.S. heartland.
Imported from Asia in the 1960s-70s to feed on algae from Deep South sewage lagoons and fish farms, they escaped into the Mississippi River. They consume most of the river and many streams, infesting native species such as bass and crappie.
Regulators have spent more than $ 600 million to keep them from being taken to Great Lakes and waters like Lake Barkley on the Kentucky-Tennessee line. Strategies include placing electric barriers at choke points and hiring crews to harvest fish for products such as fertilizer and pet food. Other technologies – underwater noises, air bubbles curtains – are in the works.
It helps if a lot of people eat animals. Officials estimate that up to 50 million pounds (22.7 million kilograms) can be extracted annually on the Illinois River, a link between Mississippi and Lake Michigan. Much more is available between the Midwest and the Gulf Coast.
“Government subsidies alone can’t end this war,” Goss said. “The private sector, driven by market demand for copi may be our highest hope.”
In the US, carp are known to be the main mud feeders of the bottom. But the four targeted species live higher in the water column, feed on algae, rag plants and – in the case of black carp – fungi and larvae. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury and other contaminants, Irons said.
“It has a nice, mild flavor … a pleasant surprise that will help boost its reputation,” said Brian Jupiter, a Chicago chef who plans to offer a copi po’boy sandwich at his Mother Mae Tavern. The fish is adaptable to a variety of cuisines including Cajun, Asian and Latin, he said.
Although it can be a tough sale, especially since the famous satiety of fish makes it challenging to make the fillets expected in many restaurants, Jupiter added. Some of the best recipes can use chopped or ground copy, he said.
Span researchers considered several names – “butterfin” among them – before settling on “copy,” according to Irons. It sounds great, a bit exotic, even fun, he said.
Span conducts surveys, interviews and focus group meetings involving more than 350 Illinois residents, design principal Nick Adam said.
The next step: Seek permission from the federal Food and Drug Administration, which says “invented or imagined” fish labels can be used if they are not misleading or confusing. A familiar example is “slimehead,” which became a hit with consumers after its market moniker was changed to “orange roughy.”
Illinois also plans to register the “copy” mark, which will enable industry groups to improve quality control methods, Irons said.
Other regulatory agencies and scientific groups have their own policies and may not go along with the switch.
The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists and the American Fisheries Society have committees that list fish titles, including scientific Latin names and long -accepted common names. The panel never adopted “Asian carp” as an umbrella term for the four invasive species.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to keep “invasive carp” and the four individual names, because its focus is to manage and control their spread, said Charlie Wooley, the agency’s Midwest director. The Invasive Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, which includes several federal, state, local and Canadian provincial agencies, will also do this.
They dropped “Asian carp” last year over concerns about anti-Asian bigotry.
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