Illinois officials hope rebranding campaign can boost demand for Asian carp

Published on
February 11, 2021

When it comes to marketing fish, carp is a “four-letter word.”

According to the Detroit Free Press, Illinois state officials want to rename the Asian carp species that has ravaged waterways in the U.S. Midwest and South for decades.

Companies like Purina and Canadian-based Wilder Harrier have developed dog food products using the fish. But "it's been hard to get the human consumption part of this because of the four-letter word: carp,” Illinois Department of Natural Resources Assistant Chief of Fisheries Kevin Irons said.

That’s because carp is typically associated with bottom-feeding fish, but Asian carp varieties feed off plankton and have a much better taste.

The IDNR is preparing a media campaign to give the species a new name. According to materials prepared by Irons’ department,  the new name will be announced in advance of Seafood Expo North America, taking place from 11 to 13 July.

Officials hope that the new name will make the species more desirable for human consumption, and the more Asian carp (or whatever it will be called) that’s eaten, the chances improve for keeping the fish from entering the Great Lakes.

It’s not just Illinois that stands to benefit from a name change. Last week, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Western Fishery District announced that commercial fishermen had a record-breaking year for harvesting the soon-to-be-renamed species. In 2020, U.S. fishermen landed nearly 7.7 million pounds of Asian carp in state waterways, one million more than was caught in 2019 and about three times as many as were harvested in 2018.

It’s not the first time an effort like this has taken place. The Patagonian toothfish is now commonly known as Chilean sea bass, and the alligator pear can be found in produce aisles under the name avocado.

Photo courtesy of Sergey Yeromenko/Shutterstock

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