According to the decision made by a California appeals court, bees in the US can now be legally called a fish. While odd, this move will now allow the government in California to protect endangered bee species, many of which are under threat from climate change. The ruling came on Tuesday after agricultural groups sued California wildlife officials for attempting to list four bumble bee species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).
The judge reversed a previous ruling by a lower court, which then noted that threatened or endangered species of bees could be listed under the CESA category of fish as the definition of “fish” is broad and includes invertebrates.
Pamela Flick from Defenders of Wildlife, one of the case’s intervenor defendants said: “It is a great day for California’s bumble bees.
“Today’s decision confirms that California Endangered Species Act protections apply to all of our state’s imperilled 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.”
According to Xerces Society, a conservation group, this decision will pave the way for critical protections that are needed for four endangered bumble bee species that occur in California.
It will also allow the Commission to protect other imperilled insects under CESA, which provides protection for some of the most vulnerable plants and animal species in the region, providing a pathway for these species to boost their populations to ensure they don’t go extinct.
CESA rules define an “endangered species” to include a bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile, or plant.
The issue arose when activists pointed out that this definition could leave out a number of other threatened species, such as insects.
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However, under California’s Fish and Game Code, a “fish” can include wild fish, molluscs, crustaceans, invertebrates and amphibians.
This broad definition allows people to stretch the boundaries of what “fish” mean, allowing for protections to apply to crabs and freshwater shrimp for example.
In this recent case, the California court was asked to decide if bees could be included in the invertebrate” section of the state’s definition of “fish”.
The judges wrote: “A fish, as the term is commonly understood in everyday parlance, of course, lives in aquatic environments.”
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