Animal activists are describing it as a “great day” after a Californian court ruled that the state’s bumblebees are actually fish. While everyone clearly knows that bees are not fish, California’s Third District Court of Appeal allowed the insects to be classed as an invertebrate, giving them protection under the California Endangered Species Act. Hurrah!
- The bumblebees need our protection. In their ruling, justices stated: “The issue presented here is whether the bumble bee, a terrestrial invertebrate, falls within the definition of fish.” Under the state’s Endangered Species Act, “endangered species” can be birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, or fish. Because of this decision, insects usually aren’t included.
- The judges believe the definition of a fish is “ambiguous.” They argued that it may not just apply to aquatic species. After all, a mollusk that lives on dry land is already included, so why not bees?
- It’s a welcome ruling for those who care about nature. “A fish, as the term is commonly understood in everyday parlance, of course, lives in aquatic environments. As the Department and the Commission note, however, the technical definition in section 45 [of California’s Fish and Game Code] includes mollusks, invertebrates, amphibians, and crustaceans, all of which encompass terrestrial and aquatic species,” the judges said. “Moreover, by virtue of the express language in section 2067, the Trinity bristle snail — a terrestrial mollusk and invertebrate — is a threatened species under the Act and could have qualified as such only within the definition of fish under section 45.”
- The court further ruled that the Fish and Game Commission could add invertebrates to the endangered species list. “We next consider whether the Commission’s authority is limited to listing only aquatic invertebrates. We conclude the answer is, ‘no’,” they explain. “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.”
- This will offer bumblebees so much more protection. “It is a great day for California’s bumble bees,” Pamela Flick, California Program Director with Defenders of Wildlife said in a press release. “Today’s decision confirms that California Endangered Species Act protections apply to all of our state’s imperiled native species and is critical to protecting our state’s renowned biodiversity. Bees and other pollinators are integral to healthy ecosystems and the crucial pollination services they provide serve all of us, making this decision exponentially more consequential.”