SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) – Brian Schoenung, Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Aquatic Nuisance Species Program Manager, greeted fairgoers Friday with a goal – to sell the public that one of Illinois’s notorious invasive species is actually quite delicious.  

Copi, a group of fish formerly known as Asian carp, is an invasive species harming Illinois’s waterways. Now with the new brand, environmental experts are hoping consumers catch on and start eating the fish to bring the population down.  

Schoenung said the re-brand was necessary. Other fish have had different culinary names, like “slimeheads” that are sold in food service as a “orange roughy”.

“Folks have often associated the word ‘carp’ with ‘common carp’, which are a very strong-flavored, bottom-feeding fish,” he said. “These fish are anything but that.”

To market the name change, IDNR workers made free copi strips, tacos and dips as a quick snack for attendees of the Illinois State Fair. 

And the public did love the taste of copi. 

“It was salty, it was very savory,” Ian Watson, fairgoer, said. “I quite enjoy it.”

 Shoenung said most folks loved the samples, except for some young kids. 

“There’s literally nothing wrong with this fish from a consumption standpoint,” he said. 

To learn more about copi and where you can buy it, you can visit this site. IDNR will be handing out more free copi samples Saturday, August 12th and Sunday, August 13th from 2-6pm or while supplies last.