Wildlife authorities are changing the name of Asian carp because they believe it is insulting due to the term's "horrible, xenophobic connotations", news outlets reported on Sunday, July 18. However, some have ridiculed this decision.
The name rebranding comes in the wake of increasing hate crimes against Asians throughout America. Despite the best efforts of the Joe Biden administration, city officials and police forces, anti-Asian abuse continues to occur regularly in the US.
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In the latest incident, three drunken men were seen hurling insults at the owner of a ramen shop in Delray, Florida, on July 15. A few days earlier, a viral Tiktok video showed a woman dubbed the Las Vegas 'Mall Karen' racially abusing an Asian woman after she allegedly punched her 6-year-old son.
As anti-Asian hate continues to perpetrate the country, bird, moth and geographical place names are being altered across the country as Americans examine the outmoded preconceptions and racial implications that some of these names may hold, CNN reported on July 17. Fishes are next in line. And despite detractors dismissing the move as misguided political correctness, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has now joined state authorities in Minnesota in renaming the species as 'invasive carp'.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, grass, bighead, silver and black carp have been recognized as "Asian" carp since the 1970s, when they were introduced to the US as a biological control for plants, algae and snails under specific conditions. However, a handful of these fish managed to break free from their confines and establish themselves in the Mississippi River, eventually spreading to the Ohio, Missouri and Illinois rivers. These invasive fish can have a negative impact on native aquatic communities, which is why organizations are working to reduce their number. Officials claim that labeling these invasive fishes "Asian" and then advocating attempts to restrict their population has xenophobic overtones.
"This could be referring to Asian people as being an invasive species, which is just a horrible connotation," said Charlie Wooley, the regional director for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the Midwest region. "We wanted to move away from any terms that cast Asian culture and people in a negative light," he added. When they first used the name Asian carp, that connotation was the last thing on their thoughts, Wooley told CNN. Anti-Asian hate crimes spiked in 2020 and early 2021 in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.
'Sustainably wild, surprisingly delicious'
Senator Foung Hawj of Minnesota was never a fan of the moniker Asian carp, which is assigned to four imported fish species that are wreaking havoc in the United States' heartland, infesting several rivers and threatening the Great Lakes, Daily Mail reported. The last straw was when an Asian business delegation flying into Minneapolis saw a billboard that said, "Kill Asian Carp." “I had more hate mail than you could shake a stick at,” Hawj said, according to New York Post.
The state of Illinois and its partners are hoping that a high-profile media campaign now in the works will yield better outcomes. It will be dubbed "The Perfect Catch" and will characterize Asian carp as "sustainably wild, surprisingly delicious," with high protein and omega-3 fatty acids and minimal mercury and other pollutants, AP reported. It will also give the fish a new, market-tested moniker that will be kept a secret until the makeover is complete, according to Irons. There hasn't been a date set yet.
Regardless of which name eventually sticks, Hawj is happy Asian carp will be scrapped. He remembers the standing ovation he received after announcing the move at an Asian-American convention. “It’s a nuisance, a small thing, but it can resonate greatly,” he said.