Illinois renames, rebrands Asian carp

Copi Idnr Span 06
(Illinois DNR)

Following more than two years of consumer research and planning, the State of Illinois has unveiled “Copi,” the new name for Asian carp.

“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 DNR 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.”

The new name and brand addresses public misconceptions about this delicious top-feeding fish, which is overrunning Midwest waterways. The previous name of carp was far too often associated with he not so tasty or healthy bottom feeding common carp.  The new name Copi is an umbrella term for the four invasive carp species – Silver, BigHead, Grass, and Black.

I’ve been a fan of eating this great tasting fish for years. As an avid bow fisher, it was just too much good-tasting meat to let go to a hole in the ground or use as fertilizer. A family favorite is a dip made for gatherings, using smoked Copi. It’s delicious spread on a cracker or dip- reminiscent of good crab dip.

I’ve done many a blind taste test with friends, and they consistently picked Copi over bluegill, bass, or crappie. Most were ever so surprised that it was such a great-tasting fish.

Copi ( are mild, clean-tasting fish with heart-healthy omega-3s and very low levels of mercury. Increased consumption will help stop them from decimating other fish populations in the Great Lakes and restore an ecological balance to waterways downstream.

“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.”

The new name is a play on “copious” – as that’s exactly what these fish are. By one estimate, 20 million to 50 million pounds of Copi could be harvested from the Illinois River alone each year, with hundreds of millions more in waterways from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast. There are waterways where over 70% of the biomass is Copi.

Changing a fish’s name has been a tried-and-true strategy for other fish. Orange roughy was originally known as slimehead; Chilean sea bass was known as Patagonian toothfish (it’s not even a bass); and peekytoe crab was once known as mud crab.

Categories: — — Illinois – Gretchen Steele, Asian Carp, News

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