Racism concerns push US agencies to rename the invasive ‘Asian carp’

Government agencies and wildlife organizations in the U.S. are moving to rename the group of invasive species collectively known as “Asian carp,” reportedly due to racism concerns.

What’s in the name: In the ’70s, four carp species — bighead, silver, grass and black carp — were imported from China to Mississippi to help clear sewage and aquaculture ponds of algae, weeds and parasites, reported AP News.

  • The fish species became a problem after flooding and accidental releases allowed them to escape into the Mississippi River among other major rivers.
  • According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the carp species are voracious eaters and pose a great risk to the local ecosystem. The agency warned against the species escaping to the Great Lakes.
  • While the labelAsian carp” has stuck for decades after showing up in scientific literature in the mid-90s, some have found it problematic and culturally insensitive in recent years.

Time for change: Previous efforts to change the label have been met with criticisms, but the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes is reportedly prompting groups to take similar steps.

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  • In 2014, Minnesota state senators Foung Hawj and John Hoffman were criticized after passing a measure requiring local agencies to call the fish “invasive carp.”
  • In April, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also assigned the term to the fish to “move away from any terms that cast Asian culture and people in a negative light,” according to Great Lakes Regional Director Charlie Wooley.
  • The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, which represents agencies trying to control the spread of the fish, will do the same on Aug. 2.
  • Wildlife organizations, such as the Entomological Society of America, have also started changing similar “offensive” names, such as the “gypsy moth” and “gypsy ant.”

Despite the individual efforts of these groups, officially changing the “Asian carp” label would still require time and consensus between agencies.

Featured Image via Vice News

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