A bee can now identify as a fish in California.
A California appeals court has ruled that bumble bees are protected under a state law that protects endangered and threatened fish. A lower court had ruled the opposite, saying laws protecting endangered fish were not meant to include insects.
But the appeals court has said that since bees are invertebrates, they can be classified as fish, and that the California Endangered Species Act definition of fish as only “aquatic invertebrates” is simply a “term of art.”
The ruling made it clear the court was aware that it was making the decision that bees are fish, as it wrote, “The issue presented here is whether the bumble bee, a terrestrial invertebrate, falls within the definition of fish….” Then, “We first reaffirm and expand upon our conclusion in California Forestry Association that section 45 defines fish as the term is used in sections 2062, 2067, and 2068 of the Act, by application of section 2.”
“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. We acknowledge the scope of the definition is ambiguous but also recognize we are not interpreting the definition on a blank slate. The legislative history supports the liberal interpretation of the Act (the lens through which we are required to construe the Act) that the Commission may list any invertebrate as an endangered or threatened species. We thus agree with the Commission, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department), and intervenors Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Defenders of Wildlife, and Center for Food Safety (collectively public interest groups) that the trial court erred when it reached a contrary conclusion. We accordingly reverse the judgment.”
In the past, California law defined fish as “wild fish, mollusks or crustaceans, including any part, spawn or ova thereof.” The Legislature in 20215 changed the definition slightly, opening the loophole for bees to be considered fish: “ ‘[f]ish’ means a wild fish, mollusk, crustacean, invertebrate, amphibian or part, spawn, or ovum of any of those animals.”