Is a bee a fish? Why California’s dwindling bee population may get new legal protection

A legal path has been set to protect dwindling bee populations in California. A state Court of Appeal ruling allows four species of bumblebee—the crooked bumblebee, Franklin bumblebee, Suckley’s bumblebee, and western bumblebee—to be added to the state’s endangered species list.

in the case? The somewhat curious question of whether a bee can be considered a fish under the California Endangered Species Act.

The California Almond Alliance sued to prevent the bumblebee species from being added to the endangered list in 2019, arguing that it was ineligible. Lower court agreed. Then late last month, the state appeals court overturned that decision, saying the state fish and game commission already had the authority to list invertebrates that don’t live in water.

Here’s how the Court of Appeal determined it:

“The issue presented here is whether the bumblebee, a terrestrial invertebrate, falls within the definition of fish, as this term is used to define an endangered species…More specifically, we must determine whether the commission has exceeded its legally delegated authority when Four species of bumblebee have been identified as candidate species under consideration for inclusion as an endangered species.”

In the end, the Court of Appeal decided that the word “fish” in this context was not literal. More resolution:

“Although the term fish is generally and broadly understood to refer to aquatic species, the technical term used by the Legislature in defining fish in Section 45 is not very limited.”

In other words, in this case, yes, a bumblebee could be considered a “fish” because lawmakers had previously decided that the broader interpretation was indeed permissible.

why? According to National Law Review Analysis: This conclusion was based on the finding that the “committee” already had the authority to list invertebrates “under Cal. ESA” and had previously listed three invertebrates as endangered or rare. ”

For example, terrestrial mollusks (such as snails), which are terrestrial vertebrates, received protection in 1984. For this reason, bees, as well as non-aquatic vertebrates, had historical legal support for the growth of their legislative scales of protection.

Boris Beyer of the Integrative Bee Research Center at the University of California, Riverside, describes the ruling as a major achievement.

“It’s important for food production, but it’s also really important for what we’ll call ecosystem stability or ecosystem health,” Bayer said.

He points out that bumblebees and other pollinators play a role in the growth of crops that are high in vitamins.

He said, “So we not only produce food, but we also produce healthy foods. So it has a direct impact on human health.”

For example, Bayer previously told us that in the Central Valley, where 80% of global almond production is produced, “we need about 1.2 million cells each year just to pollinate these trees.”

For example, the Crotch bumblebee was “ubiquitous” throughout central California and is now “absent from much of its historical range,” according to the Los Padres Forestwatch group.

“The species has experienced a relative decrease in abundance of approximately 98% over the past decade,” the group reports.

Baer says pollinators of all kinds are declining, but this ruling initiates steps to save them from extinction.

What questions do you have about Southern California?

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