Why It’s Actually Good News That California Deemed Bumblebees Are Fish

We’ve all heard by now that the bees are in trouble. And if the bees are in trouble, so is literally every other living thing on earth, so it’s definitely a problem that needs to be solved.

California, at least, is taking steps to try to help – even if their methods seem a bit crazy.

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Bees, after all, are not biologically fish. But that didn’t stop the courts from ruling that they can still be classified as an invertebrate, which offers them protection under the California Endangered Species Act.

The judges of California’s Third District Court of Appeals wrote this in their summation:

“The issue presented here is whether the bumble bee, a terrestrial invertebrate, falls within the definition of fish.”

The reason is that under the state’s endangered act protected animals have to be “birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, or fish.”

This list does not include insects.

Image Credit: iStock

In the end, they decided that to be classified a “fish,” an animal does not have to be solely aquatic in nature.

“A fish, as the term is commonly understood in everyday parlance, of course, lives in aquatic environments. As the Department and the Commission note, however, the technical definition in section 45 [of California’s Fish and Game Code] includes mollusks, invertebrates, amphibians, and crustaceans, all of which encompass terrestrial and aquatic species.”

They based this opinion partially on the fact that a terrestrial mollusk had previously been deemed a “fish” and therefore covered by the act.”

Therefore, other invertebrates that dwell on land should also be up for grabs.

“We next consider whether the Commission’s authority is limited to listing only aquatic invertebrates. We conclude the answer is ‘no.’ 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.”

So, in order protect bumble bees in California, the Fish and Game Commission says they’re fish – and people like Pamela Flick with Defenders of Wildlife, who advocate for their survival, are thrilled.

“It is a great day for California’s bumble bees. Today’s decision confirms that California’s Endangered Species Act protections apply to all of our state’s imperiled native species and is critical to protecting our state’s renowned biodiversity.”

Image Credit: Ivar Leidus

A good day for the bees – and a good day for humans, too, since they’re now protected while they go about pollinating the crops that sustain us on a daily basis.

Actual fish or not, you’ve gotta love that.