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December 6, 2022
A California court of appeals ruled last week that four types of bees can be legally classified as fish, and can be protected under endangered fish laws that exist in the state.
A lawsuit filed by environmental interest groups against the California Fish and Game Commission argued that four bumble bee species technically fall under the category of terrestrial invertebrates, which are protected under current California laws.
The suit claims the Crotch bumble bee, the Franklin bumble bee, the Suckley cuckoo bumble bee, and the Western bumble bee can all be classified as invertebrates and therefore fall under the protection of state environmental laws.
In 2015, the definition for what the California Endangered Species Act covered was changed to read, “‘[f]ish’ means a wild fish, mollusk, crustacean, invertebrate, amphibian or part, spawn, or ovum of any of those animals.” Due to the invertebrate classification, the appeals court sided with the environmental groups and overturned a previous ruling that barred the four bee species from being protected under the CESA.
“We next consider whether the commission’s authority is limited to listing only aquatic invertebrates,” the ruling stated. “We conclude the answer is, ‘no.’ Although the term fish is colloquially and commonly understood to refer to aquatic species, the term of art employed by the Legislature in the definition of fish in section 45 is not so limited,” the court wrote.
The court ruled the California Fish and Game Commission has the authority to list any species that fall under the CESA definition as endangered, and provide increased conservation measures throughout the state to help the species thrive. The global decline in bee species over the last several years has elevated bees to the top of the list for environmental conservation groups to help.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK POST