Conservation group criticizes Illinois’ taxpayer-funded carp rebranding campaign – Cities 92.9

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(The Center Square) – A taxpayer-funded campaign to rebrand the common name of an invasive species of carp threatening to invade Lake Michigan is rubbing some conservationists the wrong way.

Illinois officials have announced a new name for the invasive fish formerly known as Asian carp. It’s now copi, short for copious. An ad campaign launched through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources last month includes the website choosecopi.com, with an Instagram and Facebook page.

“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?” IDNR Director Colleen Callahan said. “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.”

The Prairie Rivers Network said in a news release critical of the move that “those who can’t do, rebrand.” Robert Hirschfeld questions if the $600,000 budget for the ad campaign is the best use of taxpayer money.

“I have no real problem with eating carp or marketing it, I’m happy if any private enterprise can get that done,” Hirschfeld told WMAY. “But, they’ve been trying to do this for a couple of years and it hasn’t really caught on. So the state of Illinois is calling it copi, other states are not necessarily following suit, so it’s not like this is a completely coordinated effort.”

Illinois officials say they will apply to formally change the name with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the end of the year.

“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,” IDNR’s Kevin Irons said. “So there is one thing that everyone can do to help save the Great Lakes: Call the fish Copi.”

In the meantime, Hirschfeld said the $600,000 ad budget is taxpayer money misspent.

“There’s already kind of a bounty on carp and so they’re pulling many, many carp out of the river and that’s not a bad thing either for the rivers themselves or to reduce the pressure for carp moving to a new territory like Lake Michigan,” Hirschfeld said.

Instead, he said taxpayer resources should be used to address things that degrade the rivers.

“Rivers have been cut off from their natural floodplains, rivers have been dammed and channelized and they are still being filled with toxic pollutants, many of which is coming from runoff in agricultural fields in Illinois,” Hirschfeld said.

IDNR said in a statement changing a fish’s name is a “tried-and-true” strategy to make it more appetizing.

Part of the campaign has chefs and retailers across the state committing to putting copi in their stores and on their menus.

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July 3, 2022 at 05:33PM

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