California court rules a bumblebee is a fish under environmental law

28 May possibly 2022, Hessen, Frankfurt/Major: A bumblebee sits on a bearded carnation in a garden. Picture: Oliver Berg/dpa (Photograph by Oliver Berg/picture alliance via Getty Images)

A bumblebee is a fish below California legislation, a California court mentioned in a ruling this 7 days.

And hence, the bumblebee should be shielded by the state’s endangered species ordinances, court docket paperwork exhibit.

In the situation, Almond Alliance of California v. Fish and Activity Commission, the California Condition Appellate Court docket of the Third District claimed the “difficulty presented listed here is whether the bumblebee, a terrestrial invertebrate, falls in just the definition of a fish,” according to lawful paperwork.

According to the judges, the bumblebee is labeled as a fish as a liberal interpretation of the word “fish”, as nicely as the state’s personal legislative record, including non-aquatic everyday living. 

The judges stated that “even though the term fish is colloquially and frequently understood to refer to aquatic species,” the law, as it is penned, would make the lawful “definition of fish… not so constrained,” the court docket files display.

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The court docket stated the “Endangered Species Act” has given classification authority to the Fish and Recreation Fee to determine what is and is not an endangered species, courtroom documents demonstrate.

And, below the regulation, the fee is only dependable for developing “a listing of endangered species and a checklist of threatened species.” The court docket also uncovered the commission’s authority “was not constrained to listing only aquatic invertebrates.”


The state’s individual legislative history also supports this “liberal interpretation” to classify a non-aquatic bumblebee as a “fish” as below point out legislation “the Commission may checklist any invertebrate as an endangered or threatened species.”

Ahead of 1969, the regulation outlined fish as “wild fish, mollusks, or crustaceans, including any component, spawn or ova thereof.” That exact year, the Legislature amended a area that outlined fish to increase invertebrates and amphibia. 


This area was improved only the moment, in 2015, when the point out Legislature modified the definition to browse “‘[f]ish’ means a wild fish, mollusk, crustacean, invertebrate, amphibian, or aspect, spawn, or ovum of any of individuals animals.” 

“We admit the scope of the definition is ambiguous,” the judges extra, the court docket documents confirmed.

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The court docket in the end dominated Judge James P. Arguelles of the Sacramento County Outstanding Court docket “erred when [he] achieved a contrary summary.”

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