A CALIFORNIA court has made the seemingly astonishing ruling that bees can legally be considered fish – thanks to a loophole in the law.
The May 31 ruling reversed an earlier ruling that found bumblebees cannot be considered “fish” under the California Endangered Species Act.
The California Third Circuit Court of Appeals said in its decision, “The question presented here is whether the bumblebee, a terrestrial invertebrate, falls within the definition of fish because that term is used in the definitions of endangered species in Section 2062, Endangered Species.” becomes section 2067 and candidate species (i.e. species being considered for listing as endangered or threatened species) in section 2068 of the Act.”
The California Endangered Species Act was drafted to protect “native species or subspecies of birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles or plants.”
Invertebrates are missing from the list of protected species.
Thanks to a loophole for insects, mollusks, and other spineless creatures to fall under the umbrella term “invertebrates,” the law defines a “fish” as “any wild fish, mollusc, crustacean, invertebrate, amphibian, or part, a Spawn or an ovum thereof of any of these animals.”
Extending the definition of fish to include invertebrates will allow the Fish and Game Commission to better protect them, the court wrote.
In 2018, several public interest groups petitioned to list four bumblebee species as endangered species under California law — the crotch bumblebee, the Franklin bumblebee, the Suckley cuckoo bumblebee, and the western bumblebee.
But in 2020, the Sacramento County Supreme Court ruled that the “invertebrates” listed in the definition of fish refer only to marine invertebrates, with the exception of insects like bumblebees — leaving the California Fish and Game Commission powerless to keep invertebrates under the law record.
However, the most recent ruling overturned that decision, noting that “fish” may contain bumblebees — at least for purposes of the California Endangered Species Act.
“Although the term fish is colloquially and commonly understood to refer to aquatic species, the art term used by the legislature in the definition of fish in Section 45 is not so limited,” the court said in its ruling.
The reversal now means bumblebees can be listed under the California Endangered Species Act.
The victory for conservationists comes after bumblebees plummeted in the US due to climate change.
Sarina Jepsen, director of endangered species at the Xerces Society, one of the nonprofits California approached to protect bees, said in a statement, “We celebrate today’s decision that insects and other invertebrates can be protected under CESA.
“The court’s decision allows California to protect some of its most vulnerable pollinators, a move that will contribute to the resilience of the state’s native ecosystems and farms.”
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https://www.the-sun.com/news/5502652/bumblebees-legally-considered-fish-california-court-battle/ Bumblebees can now legally be considered FISH after years of litigation over a California loophole