I believe it was Shakespeare or possibly even W.C. Fields who wrote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
One of, if not the most famous and oft repeated quotes in Western civilization. The question, of course, is, would it? Would a donut without the hole in the center still be a donut? And why is a Cadillac built on a Corvette frame and powered by a Corvette engine still a Cadillac?
Leaving the hypothesis that changing names matters little, except perhaps in the case of politicians or fugitive warrants.
Enter the Copi, advertised as a delicious-eating fish chock full of heart-healthy omega-3’s. I chanced upon the following while perusing my most recent copy of Fur-Fish-Game magazine. It seems as though the state of Illinois has a group of public relations swifties (they call them marketing experts) who have come up with an idea to help rid the state of an invasive, imported piscatorial nuisance. And make money at the same time. What else would you expect where the state’s biggest city is nicknamed after the state’s politicians and often called the “Windy City?” Honest, the name really is all about the “Vote early and vote often” bunch that runs the state.
But back to the main thrust of this week’s enlightenment. Simply put, the “Copi” is nothing less than a rebranded (renamed) Asian carp, those invasive fish that are infesting the Midwest waterways, particularly the Mississippi River system and its sub-system water-ways, to the point of eliminating all other piscatorial species, by destroying their habitat.
Concerns are now that the overly adaptive fish may enter into the Great Lakes and destroy the native species in that habitat. Commercial fishing apparently plays a major part in the economy of the region. If memory serves, this happened once before, during the mid 20th century when introduced lake trout or a similar species of fish became the dominant species in the lakes. A situation which severely interfered with the multitude of other fish that normally inhabit the lakes simply because lake trout are voracious feeders on other fish. Very similar to the impact of transplanted lake trout in our own Yellowstone Lake recently, after some numbnuts transplanted lakers into that fishery. Or walleyes in our own Buffalo Bill Reservoir.
Which brings to my mind the thought that the native lakers and pike and muskellenge could possibly handle the situation, being the voracious feeders they are. Apparently not, according to authorities. Apparently it’s believed that the Asian carp can spawn faster than the predators can eat them, placing the entire Great Lakes fisheries in jeopardy.
As an aside, these carp are the ones you see on TV being shot with shotguns and archery tackle out of smaller motor boats since the passage of a motorized craft makes the darn things jump in the air like they were shot from catapults, furnishing great sport for resident rednecks. If you use a shotgun you don’t even have to clean them, leaving the resident snapping turtles with a smorgasbord. Sounds like great fun.
One estimate places the abundance of between 20 and 50 million pounds of Copi that could be harvested from the Illinois River alone, disregarding the additional millions of pounds available from the multitude of infested rivers extant in those feeder rivers emptying into the Missouri River from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast.
The name Copi was a marketing brainstorm and a takeoff from the copious amounts of fish available. Personally, I’d think the major cat and dog food producers would be interested in the commercial aspects of going after these intruders. Fleets of long-line netters could probably sell their catch to commercial vendors and eliminate or diminish the threat in a matter of months.
The Asian carp problem is another product of America’s unregulated free enterprise genius ideas, as they were originally imported to eat the algae and water grasses overtaking the ponds at commercial fish farms where fish, likely catfish, were being raised commercially for market. The massive floods during the 1970s destroyed hundreds of miles of protective levees surrounding and protecting these farms. That event released thousands of the fish into the Mississippi River and they prospered beyond belief. And nobody saw this coming? Really?
Regardless, renaming a product to make it more marketable to the public is not new. For example, orange roughy was originally called slimehead. The Patagonian toothfish has become the Chilean Sea Bass, and it’s not even a bass. Heck, back around the turn of the 19th century, muskrats were sold as delicacies in posh New York and other upscale restaurants as “Marsh hare.”
And by the way, a donut with jelly in the center and no hole is called a “Bismarck.” No relation to the late chancellor of Prussia who unified the Germanic states previous to WWI. Or the behemoth of a Nazi warship by the same name that raised so much hell in the North Atlantic during WWII.