Invasive species have long been a problem all over our increasingly connected planet. However, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is using a particularly modern strategy – P.R. – in an attempt to curb the presence of non-native carp in the state’s waterways. The four carp subspecies in question (bighead, brass, silver, and black) have spread widely since their North American introduction in the 1960s, out-competing local fish for resources and lowering general water quality. But they are also pretty tasty – a fact belied by their unappetizing name. Turning gross-sounding “carp” to cutely exotic “copi,” experts hope, will help humans make a feast-sized dent in the overall population.
“In addition to giving the fish a new name, the project brings together more than 30 restaurants, distributors, processors and retailers from across Illinois, Tennessee, Arizona, and Washington D.C., all working together to get copi on more plates. The project’s website even suggests recipes provided by participating restaurants, including copi fresh fish tacos, a copi firehouse fish burger and copi smoked fish dip. Funding for the project – $600,000 over five years – comes from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a group of federal agencies working to protect the Great Lakes, the largest system of fresh surface water in the world.
The new name comes from the word ‘copious,’ a nod to the sheer abundance of these fish. It was thought up by Span, a Chicago-based communications firm, the AP reports. Fishermen could harvest 20 to 50 million pounds of copi from the Illinois River alone each year, per a statement from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, with ‘hundreds of millions’ of additional pounds in other waterways.”
This is a fun tactic in our fight against invasive species – make delicious tacos out of them! It’s also a gentler way of, essentially, taking responsibility for our earlier mistakes. We’ve only got one world, and untangling the web we shouldn’t have woven can make life easier for the countless other-than-human organisms that share our space. If we can get a fabulous meal out of it too, that’s gravy!