Concerns about racism, waterways encourage push to rename fish

Traverse City, Michigan (AP) —

Senator Foung Hawj of Minnesota is a fan of the “Asian carp” label commonly applied to the four imported fish species that have caused havoc in the heart of the United States, flooding numerous rivers and flooding the Great Lakes. There was not.

But the last straw came when an Asian business delegation arrived at Minneapolis Airport and encountered a sign saying “Kill Asian carp.” It was a good faith plea to prevent the spread of invading fish. However, the message was offensive to the visitor. ..

In 2014, Hoji and fellow Senator John Hoffman won approval for a measure requiring Minnesota agencies to call fish “invasive carp.”

“I had more harassment emails than you waved a stick,” Hoffman said.

Currently, several other government agencies are taking the same steps in the wake of the surge in anti-Asia hate crimes during the coronavirus pandemic. The US Fish and Wildlife Service quietly changed its designation to “invasive carp” in April.

“We wanted to move away from words that would take a negative view of Asian culture and people,” said Charlie Woolley, head of the Great Lakes Regional Office.

He said the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, which represents US and Canadian agencies trying to contain carp, will meet on August 2 as well.

This move is due to consideration of revisions to names that other wildlife tissues consider unpleasant, such as the Entomological Society of America. This month I dropped “Gypsy Moth” and “Gypsy Moth” From that insect list.

However, switching to “invasive carp” may not be the final decision. As experts and policy makers have learned in their long struggle with prolific and cunning fish, almost nothing about them is simple. Scientists, tech journals, government agencies, language style guides, restaurants, grocery stores have ideas about what to call them based on different motives, such as feeding more people. It may be.

It’s a priority for researchers Those who have spent years developing technology To stop intrusions — from underwater noise makers and electric current to internet operations.

However, despite its popularity around the world, this dish has not been accepted by US consumers. For many Americans, “carp” is reminiscent of carp, a well-established bottom feeder for its “muddy” flavor and boney meat.

“This is a four-letter word in this country,” said Kevin Irons, assistant director of fisheries at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Bighead carp, silver, grass and black carp were brought from China half a century ago to remove algae, weeds and parasites from southern sewage and fishponds. They fled into the wild and traveled up the Mississippi and other major rivers. The Great Lakes and its $ 7 billion sports fishing It is vulnerable.

Greedy and aggressive silver and bighead carp plankton needed by other fish. Grass carp munching on ecologically valuable wetland plants, and black carp eat mussels and snails. Silver can also jump out of the water like a missile, causing a nasty collision with a boater.

So far, they have been netted primarily for food, pet food and several other uses. Louisiana chef Philippe Parola has registered the trademark “Silver Fins”, a label for Asian carp fishcakes developed around 2009.

Illinois and its partners hope that the flashy media campaigns for their work will bring greater results. Called the “perfect catch,” this carp is described as “persistently wild and surprisingly delicious.” It’s high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, low in mercury and other pollutants.

And it will give the fish a new market-tested name, and it remains a secret until the transformation unfolds, Irons said. The date has not been announced.

“We hope it’s new and refreshing and better represents these fish to consumers,” he said.

The goal is to raise interest throughout the chain, from commercial netters to processors, grocery stores and restaurants.

The tactics worked before. After the US National Department of Marine Affairs and Fisheries renamed “Slime Head” to “Orange Raffy” in the late 1970s, demand for deep-sea residents surged and some resources were depleted. Another cold water favorite, the Chilean sea bass, was once known. Not as attractive as “Patagonia’s Toothfish”.

But which new label of Asian carp is considered official? What came up with the “aggressive carp” that has been criticized for being inaccurate, or the marketing blitz?

It could be either. Or neither.

The rebranding campaign seeks US Food and Drug Administration approval to use the new Monica for interstate commerce. But even if the FDA succeeds and consumers agree, scientists are another matter.

The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists and the American Fisheries Society list fish titles that include Latin scientific names and common names that people “first described the species or included in field guides and other references.” There is a committee to do. Larry Page, chairman of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s fish curator, said.

For example, “Micropterus salmoides”, which became known as largemouth bass, “Oncorhynchus mykiss” or rainbow trout.

The Commission has never adopted “Asian carp” as the term for the four invasive species, Page said.

So where did it come from? According to a paper in the journal Fisheries, the label began appearing in the scientific literature in the mid-1990s and became established in the early 2000s as concerns about fish grew.

Patrick Kocovsky, a fish ecologist at the US Geological Survey and one of the authors of the treatise, said this was by no means a good idea because species affect the environment in different ways.

Son Chien, a professor of environmental science at the University of Toledo, who teamed up with Kokowski in this article, said carp is a valuable source of protein in many Asian countries. It is a symbol of good luck in his native China.

“Even if it’s a misunderstanding, if you say it’s invasive, bad, and needs to be eradicated, that’s why there’s talk about cultural insensitivity,” Qian said. It was.

He said it was most accurate to refer to the fish species individually, and that it was sometimes convenient to recognize the set name. The current challenge is to find the right one.

Minnesota parliamentarian Hoji, who emigrated to the United States as a child refugee from Laos after the Vietnam War, said he was pleased with the “Asian carp” coming out, regardless of who would eventually stick. .. He recalled the warm applause he received at an Asian-American conference after announcing that his state had changed.

“It’s a nuisance and a small thing, but it can resonate a lot,” he said.


Follow John Flesher on Twitter: @johnflesher

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