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Lawmaker wants Asian carp renamed; term called 'offensive'

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Citing a negative connotation with the name of the invasive species, a Minnesota senator wants the term Asian carp to be changed to something else.

The Associated Press says Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, is sponsoring a bill in the Senate to have the name changed because some people of Asian descent have complained about the name.

“Caucasians brought them to America. Should we call them ‘Caucasian carp?’ They have names," Hoffman said Thursday. "Let’s call them what they are."

According to the Associated Press, the proposal in the Legislature would require the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to call the species "invasive carp."

A fish biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia, says the species were named for two closely related fish – the bighead carp and the silver carp – which are native to a region of Asia spanning China, part of Siberia and North Korea.

The Environmental Protection Agency says Asian carp – found in the Illinois River, which connects the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan – could pose a significant risk to the Great Lakes ecosystem because of their large size and rapid rate of reproduction.

Jean Lee, an adoption advocate who facilitates international adoptions for China and Vietnam, testified Thursday that she became upset by the term after hearing it at a roundtable meeting with DNR officials.

"They were referring to the Asian people in terms of being invasive species. This was offensive," Lee said.

The Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans Executive Director Sia Her also testified that the negative response to the fish “will reflect negatively on our community," the AP says.

The complaints come less than two weeks after a discovery about 20 miles south of the Minnesota border. The Star Tribune says Asian carp eggs were found in the Upper Mississippi River near Lynxville, Wisconsin.

A DNR spokesman says the agency wasn't aware of the complaints that the Asian carp name was offensive, but will follow the Legislature's lead on a decision.

The Senate bill was approved and awaits a House vote, but the House version still has to go to committee. The AP says a similar bill introduced in the Iowa Legislature in 2013 didn’t make it out of committee.

The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee has a fact sheet on the risks the species brings to the Illinois River and the Great Lakes.

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