As if comedians didn’t have enough to say about our state, the California Supreme Court just approved letting the state determine whether a bee is a fish. A California Bee-Fish
The case followed a petition by Xerces Society, a Portland, Oregon based organization, that requested the California Fish and Game Commission to list four bees as endangered under a provision of the California Endangered Species Act designed for “fish species.”
As the California Fish and Game Commission voted to begin the listing process, a concerned group of farmers and organizations sued to protect millions of dollars in working land pollinator habitat and tens of thousands of jobs tied to our agricultural communities.
At first, the Sacramento County Superior Court ruled the definition of “fish” only encompasses aquatic invertebrates, not terrestrial invertebrates such as insects. The Third District Court of Appeal later overturned this.
This past month, the California Supreme Court sided with California’s Third District Court of Appeal that the California Endangered Species Act can let bees and other insects be listed under the threatened, endangered or candidate species under the definition of “fish species.”
This decision lets the California Fish and Wildlife determine whether to list four bumblebee species, the Crotch, the Western, the Suckley Cuckoo and the Franklin, as endangered.
Listing these species violates trust and goodwill with the almond farmers who have invested in developing the nation’s largest working land pollinator habitat (160,000 acres), disincentivizing any good pollinator support practices made by anyone in the farming or conservation community.
It renders the millions of state and federal dollars for pollinator habitat and protection absolutely wasted.
It undermines the retailers, food brands and consumer efforts to purchase or support pollinator-friendly products.
The court ruling itself is ridiculous as it changes the meaning of words in our society and, in this instance, makes insects eligible for protection under the law. Now cockroaches are eligible, lice are eligible and spiders are eligible.
This requirement will extend beyond our farms, affecting every effort to develop housing, critical infrastructure and water supply systems. It will even pose a threat to the Build Back Better funding projects.
Farmers, builders, homeowners and construction workers will have to stop to identify every bee to see if it is a California Bee-Fish. Should the California Bee-Fish be listed, complying with the law may require us to violate it, harassing every bee we see to identify it correctly.
As ridiculous as the court ruling is, this is about supporting our pollinators. As the state enters its review period, we will work closely to ensure they remember that.