Do Asian carp need a new name?

invasive carp from Asia
CC BY 2.0 Steve Hillebrand for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Is the name "Asian carp" racist?

Yesterday, Minnesota's Senate Environment and Energy Committee unanimously voted to ban the term "Asian carp." Aaron Rupar reports for CityPages that the bill will now advance to the state's Senate floor for a vote.

Supporters of the bill say that referring to invasive carp species as "Asian" is racist and offensive. "The response to this species has been and we believe will continue to be overwhelmingly negative, and thus we feel reflects very negatively on our community of Asian Americans," Sia Her, executive director of the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, said during testimony.

The proposed bill states that the commissioner of natural resources "shall use the term 'invasive carp' or refer to the specific species in any proposed laws, rules, or official documents when referring to carp species that are not naturalized to the waters of this state."

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Julie Forster told the AP that the agency was unaware of any complaints about the offensiveness of the term, but said the agency would follow any directions approved by the Legislature.

Biologist Cindy Kolar, who works for the U.S. Geological Survey, told the AP that "Asian carp" may actually refer to two different species of invasive carp: the bighead carp and silver carp. Both fish are native to a region of Asia that includes China, North Korea and part of Siberia.

These species of carp are considered invasive in North America because they can outcompete native fish and there are few natural mechanisms to balance their growing populations. The invasive carp have been found throughout the Great Lakes watershed.

Do Asian carp need a new name?
Legislators in Minnesota propose that references to "Asian carp" be changed to "invasive carp."