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Bees Now Count As Fish in California


Bees Now Count As Fish in California
Bees Now Count As Fish in California

In May 2022, California’s Third District Court of Appeal ruled bees can be legally designated as fish. Designed to protect “native species or subspecies of a bird, mammal, fish, or plant,” the California Endangered Species Act doesn’t explicitly include insects, but specifies fish as “...wild fish, mollusk, crustacean, invertebrate, amphibian, or part, spawn or ovum of any of those animals.” Therefore, it can be argued that as invertebrates, native Californian bees count as fish, and thus can be listed under the Act and receive extended protections from the Fish and Game Commission.


Honey bee on flower

The matter started in 2018 with several interest groups submitting a petition to designate the Crotch, Franklin, Suckley cuckoo, and Western bumblebees-all endangered- under the Act. The Sacramento Supreme Court rejected the petition in 2020, finding that the invertebrates clause referred to strictly marine invertebrates only. Fortunately, the 2022 ruling overturned the previous decision, and not a moment too soon. Not just in California, but bumblebees nationwide “face serious decline throughout the united states due to climate change” (Sottile, 2022). Exploiting this loophole can give much-needed support to Californian crucial pollinators, albeit in an unorthodox manner. This is highly encouraging because it shows that people truly care about the well-being of their pollinators. At least in California, the well-being of said bumblebees could be secured thanks to this new ruling. However, there is the matter of getting all of California’s endangered bees actually listed under the Act, until which the endangered bumblebees are still left undefended in their current predicament. Moreover, even if these bees are listed under the California Endangered Species Act, it’s no guarantee that extended protections will be enough to halt or reverse their decline. This ruling is indeed a legal victory, but it’s only the beginning.


Sottile, Z. (2022, June 6). California bees can legally be fish and have the same protections, a court has ruled. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/06/us/california-bees-fish-court-ruling-scn-trnd/index.html


Written by Sophie Dutsch-Zdanowicz

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