1. Agriculture World

Preventing Bee Species from Being as Considered Fish (Under CESA)

Vipin Saini
Vipin Saini
Bombus Vosnesenskii

Can bees be categorised as Fish? Interestingly they may……or may not! A case of a wrong regulatory authority poking their noses where they shouldn’t have in the first place. 

About a year back the four bee species had become candidates for protections under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). A broad coalition of agricultural organizations came together to try and prevent the bees from qualifying as an endangered species. Legal action was brought about by several industry groups including the California Farm Bureau Federation, Western Growers Association, and the California Association of Pest Control Advisors. The Western Agricultural Processors Association, California Citrus Mutual, Almond Alliance of California, and California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association were also named as plaintiffs in the case. 

Recently a Sacramento Superior Court judge was reconsidering a tentative ruling which set aside a decision to classify bees as an endangered species. It was declared that the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) does not have the authority to designate bumblebees as a candidate species. In the recent ruling, the Judge stated that “a counterintuitive mental leap is required to conclude that bumblebees may be protected as fish.” The tentative ruling blocks the decision to have the Department of Fish and Wildlife start a review process for multiple species of bumblebees. 

The four bee species at the heart of the issue are Franklin’s, Western, Crotch, and Suckley cuckoo bumblebees. A petition was initially filed by the Xerces Society, Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Food Safety to have the bees listed as endangered. The argument was made that while insects typically cannot be considered an endangered species, the definition of ‘fish’ includes ‘invertebrates’ and should be applied. Ag groups raised concern that adding bees to CESA would create a host of logistical problems and liabilities moving forward. 

Hence, several bee species will not be considered as fish under the (CESA). 

The decision from the Sacramento Superior Court however, is a tentative ruling. Agricultural groups have been appreciative of the decision but are aware of the potential for future action.  

If the decision to stand, future litigation aimed at protecting the bee species may be brought by environmental groups. 

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