Invasive Asian carp to be renamed to remove the term’s ‘terrible, xenophobic connotations’

The invasive Asian carp species will be renamed because of the term’s “terrible, xenophobic connotations” in the wake of a spate of anti-Asian hate crimes.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has now joined government agencies in Minnesota by labeling the species as “invasive carp,” despite critics deriding the move as misguided political correctness.

Officials claimed calling the fish “Asian” and advocating for its culling had xenophobic connotations — but the move sparked derision on Twitter, where users pointed out that the term referred to where the fish originally came from.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has now joined government agencies in Minnesota in referring to Asian carp (pictured) as ‘invasive carp’

The move sparked ridicule on Twitter, where users pointed out that the term referred to where the fish originally came from

The move sparked ridicule on Twitter, where users pointed out that the term referred to where the fish originally came from

“This could refer to Asian humans as an invasive species, which is just a terrible connotation,” said Charlie Wooley, director of the Great Lakes regional office.

‘We wanted to distance ourselves from terms that portray Asian culture and people in a negative light.’

Twitter users ridiculed the move on Sunday.

“So we can’t say #AsianCarp anymore because it’s xenophobic and people might get the wrong idea, thinking Asians are aggressively invasive and their population needs to be controlled, like the #fish?” one tweeted.

“They’re called that because we imported them from there, not because we’re racist.”

Another wrote: ‘One of THE dumbest things I’ve ever heard. Asian carp are called “Asian carp” because they come from ASI.

“This is not a racist thing. Burmese pythons? Native to Burma. Florida alligators? Native to Florida.

“Instead of changing animal species names, STOP THE HATE.”

sen. Minnesota State Foung Hawj was never a fan of the “Asian carp” label commonly applied to four imported fish species that wreak havoc in the US outback, infest numerous rivers and reach the Great Lakes.

But the final straw came when an Asian business delegation arriving at the Minneapolis airport came across a sign that read “Kill Asian Carp.”

How Asian carp got their name

The four species collectively described as Asian carp – bighead carp, silver carp, grass and black carp – were brought from China half a century ago to rid southern wastewater and aquaculture ponds of algae, weeds and parasites.

They escaped into the wild and made their way up the Mississippi and other major rivers. The Great Lakes and their $7 billion recreational fisheries are vulnerable.

Voracious and aggressive, silver and big-headed gobble up plankton that other fish need. Grass carp feast on ecologically valuable aquatic plants and black carp feast on mussels and snails.

Silver can also whiz out of the water like rockets and cause nasty collisions with boaters.

Hawj and fellow Senator John Hoffman won approval in 2014 on a measure requiring Minnesota agencies to call the fish “invasive carp,” despite opposition from the late radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, who ridiculed it as political correctness.

“I had more hate mail than you can stop,” Hoffman said.

Now some other government agencies are taking the same step in the wake of anti-Asian hate crimes that have skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service quietly changed its designation to “invasive carp” in April.

The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, which represents agencies in the US and Canada trying to control carp, will do the same on Aug. 2, he said.

The moves come as other wildlife organizations consider revising names some consider offensive, including the Entomological Society of America, which this month removed “gypsy moth” and “gypsy ant” from its insect lists.

Still, the switch to ‘invasive carp’ may not be the last word.

As experts and policy makers have learned in their long battle against the prolific and cunning fish, almost nothing about them is simple.

Scientists, tech magazines, government agencies, phrasebooks, restaurants, and grocery stores may have ideas about what to call them based on a variety of motives — including getting more people to eat the critters.

That’s a priority for researchers who have spent years developing technologies to counter the incursion — from underwater noise and electrical currents to grid operations.

But the dish has not caught on with American consumers, despite its popularity in much of the world.

“This could refer to Asian people as an invasive species, which is just a terrible connotation,” said Charlie Wooley, director of the Great Lakes regional office (pictured)

To many Americans, “carp” is reminiscent of the common carp, a bottom angler with a reputation for a “muddy” taste and bony flesh.

“It’s a four-letter word in this country,” said Kevin Irons, assistant chief of fisheries at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The four species collectively described as Asian carp – bighead carp, silver carp, grass and black carp – were brought from China half a century ago to rid southern wastewater and aquaculture ponds of algae, weeds and parasites.

They escaped into the wild and made their way up the Mississippi and other major rivers. The Great Lakes and their $7 billion recreational fisheries are vulnerable.

Voracious and aggressive, silver and big-headed gobble up plankton that other fish need. Grass carp feast on ecologically valuable aquatic plants and black carp feast on mussels and snails.

Silver can also whiz out of the water like rockets and cause nasty collisions with boaters.

So far, they have mainly been netted for bait, pet food, and a few other uses. Philippe Parola, a Louisiana chef, trademarked the ‘silverfin’ label for Asian carp fishcakes that he developed around 2009.

The state of Illinois and partner organizations hope a smashing media campaign in the works will yield more results. Dubbed ‘The Perfect Catch’, it describes Asian carp as ‘sustainable game, surprisingly tasty’ – rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, low in mercury and other contaminants.

Officials claimed calling the fish 'Asian' and advocating for it to be culled had xenophobic connotations

Officials claimed calling the fish ‘Asian’ and advocating for it to be culled had xenophobic connotations

And it will give the fish a market-tested new name, which will remain a secret until the rollout of the makeover, Irons said. A date has not been announced.

“We hope it will be new and refreshing and better represent this fish to consumers,” he said.

The aim is to generate interest across the entire chain – from commercial netters to processors, supermarkets and restaurants.

The tactic has worked before. After the US National Marine Fisheries Service renamed “slimehead” to “orange roughy” in the late 1970s, demand for the deep-sea dweller soared that some stocks were depleted.

Chilean sea bass, another cold-water favorite, was once less attractively known as “Patagonian toothfish.”

But which new Asian carp label will be considered official – ‘invasive carp’, which has been criticized as inaccurate, or whatever the marketing blitz comes up with?

It can be both. Or neither.

The rebranding campaign will seek approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to use the new name for interstate commerce. But even if the FDA goes along and consumers buy, scientists are another matter.

The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists and the American Fisheries Society have a committee that lists fish titles, including scientific names in Latin and common names coined by people “who originally described the species or included it in a field guide or other reference.” . said panel chair Larry Page, curator of fish at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Fishermen are encouraged to catch Asian carp to reduce their numbers and protect the waterways

Fishermen are encouraged to catch Asian carp to reduce their numbers and protect the waterways

For example, there is ‘Micropterus salmoides’, which became known as largemouth bass, and ‘Oncorhynchus mykiss’ or rainbow trout.

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

So where did it come from? According to an article in Fisheries magazine, the label appeared in the scientific literature in the mid-1990s and gained ground in the early 2000s as concerns about the fish grew.

It was never a good idea, said Patrick Kocovsky, a fish ecologist with the US Geological Survey and one of the authors of the paper, because the species affects the environment in different ways.

Song Qian, a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Toledo who worked on the paper with Kocovsky, said carp is a prized source of protein in many Asian countries. It is a good luck symbol in its native China.

“When you say it’s invasive and bad and needs to be eradicated, even if it’s because of miscommunication, it’s talking about cultural insensitivity,” Qian said.

It’s most accurate to refer to the fish species individually, he said, recognizing a collective name sometimes helpful. The challenge now is to find the right one.

Regardless of which one ultimately sticks, said Minnesota legislator Hawj who immigrated to the US as a child refugee after the Vietnam War, he’s glad the “Asian carp” is on the wane.

He recalled the warm applause he received at an Asian-American conference after announcing that his state had made the change.

“It’s annoying, a small thing, but it can resonate enormously,” he said.

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