Bees Can Now Legally Be Fish, Judge Rules

Shola Lee

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Bees Can Now Legally Be Fish, Judge Rules

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

According to a California court, bees can now be classified as fish. Yep, really.

If you thought you knew the honey-making stars of Bee Movie well, think again, because it seems they've changed species.

Well, only in legal terms and it's a pretty huge for everyone's favourite fluffy insects.

The news came on Tuesday, 31 May, reversing a lower court decision against wildlife groups who in 2018 had tried to have four types of bumblebee protected under the California Endangered Species Act.

Bumblebees can now be considered fish. Credit: Alamy
Bumblebees can now be considered fish. Credit: Alamy

You may be wondering, why are fish being involved?

Well, it's because the Endangered Species Act protects 'birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and plants', but not insects.

So, very creatively, representatives of the wildlife groups argued that bumblebees could come under the definition of 'fish' under the California Fish and Game Code , as it is defined as including invertebrates.

During their case, the groups argued that as 'California has been at the forefront of enacting legislation to protect endangered and rare animals - first doing so in 1970,' the humble bumblebee should be no exception.

Associate Justice Ronald Robie said that although we typically understand 'fish' as an 'aquatic species, the term of art employed by the Legislature [...] is not so limited.'

The California Fish and Game Code's definition of fish includes mollusks, crustaceans, invertebrates and amphibians.

It's great news for the honey-makers. Credit: Alamy
It's great news for the honey-makers. Credit: Alamy

"Accordingly, a terrestrial invertebrate, like each of the four bumblebee species, may be listed as an endangered or threatened species," Robie explained.

This was great news for environmental conservationists everywhere, with Matthew Sanders of Stanford Law School’s Environmental Law Clinic calling the decision 'a win for the bumblebees, all imperiled invertebrates in California, and the California Endangered Species that insects are "foundational to California’s agricultural production and healthy ecosystems'.

The decision reversed an early 2018 court ruling. Credit: Alamy
The decision reversed an early 2018 court ruling. Credit: Alamy

Meanwhile, Pamela Flick from Defenders of Wildlife said of the result: "It is a great day for California’s bumblebees.

"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 renown biodiversity."

Sarina Jepsen from Xerces Society also said: "The Court’s decision allows California to protect some of its most endangered pollinators, a step which will contribute to the resilience of the state’s native ecosystems and farms."

Thanks to the ruling, the Franklin’s bumblebee, Suckley cuckoo bumblebee, Crotch's bumblebee and Western bumblebee are now safely sitting in the 'fish' species category.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]  

Topics: News, Animals, Good News

Shola Lee
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