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Volume XIII, Number 28

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California Court Declares A Bumblebee To Be A Fish

Nearly seven years ago, I commented on a California statute defining "fish" to mean "a wild fish, mollusk, crustacean, invertebrate, amphibian, or part, spawn, or ovum of any of those animals".   Cal. Fish & Game Code § 45.  While I don't consider a snail, a gastropod mollusk, to be a fish, the legislature clearly thinks otherwise.

As a teenager, I kept honey bees (apis mellifera) and I never confused them with fish.  In light of a recent decision by the California Court of Appeal, I will now have to reconsider.  In Almond Alliance of Cal. v. Fish & Game Comm'n, 2022 WL 1742458, the Third District Court of Appeal interpreted the above definition of "fish" so as to include bumblebees and other terrestrial invertebrates.  The case arose from a challenge to the Fish & Game Commission's decision to designate the bumblebee as a "candidate species" under consideration for listing as an "endangered species."  Section 2068 of the Fish & Game Code defines "candidate species" to mean "a native species or subspecies of a bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile, or plant that the [Fish & Game] commission has formally noticed as being under review by the department for addition to either the list of endangered species or the list of threatened species, or a species for which the commission has published a notice of proposed regulation to add the species to either list."

Bumblebees and honeybees are in the same family (Apidae) but they are in different genera (Bombus and Apis, respectively).  The honeybee species name, mellifera, is Latin for "honey bearer."   Perhaps the legislature is just confused about bees.  In Section 29414 of the California Food & Agriculture Code incorrectly defines "honeybees" as insects of the genus Apis Mellifica (rather than mellifera).  In fact, Apis Mellifica is a homeopathic remedy that is variously bee venom or an entire bee crushed and diluted in alcohol.  Because there is no species named "apis mellifica," it seems that in California there are no honeybees and bumblebees are fish.

© 2010-2023 Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 152
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About this Author

Keith Paul Bishop, Corporate Transactions Lawyer, finance securities attorney, Allen Matkins Law Firm
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Keith Bishop works with privately held and publicly traded companies on federal and state corporate and securities transactions, compliance, and governance matters. He is highly-regarded for his in-depth knowledge of the distinctive corporate and regulatory requirements faced by corporations in the state of California.

While many law firms have a great deal of expertise in federal or Delaware corporate law, Keith’s specific focus on California corporate and securities law is uncommon. A former California state regulator of securities and financial institutions, Keith has decades of...

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