Paul Weiland Quoted on Win in California Endangered Species Act Case That Sought to Classify Bees as Fish

11.30.2020
Capital Press

Paul Weiland was quoted in the Capital Press article, “California farmers relieved bumble bees not listed as endangered — for now.” The piece provides an overview of the ruling by Superior Court Judge James Arguelles that sets aside a decision by the state Fish and Game Commission to consider four species of bumblebees for protections under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Nossaman's Ben Rubin handled the argument.

Capital Press noted that the decision came as a “huge victory” to farmers, and quoted Elaine Trevino, the President and CEO of the Almond Alliance of California—who is represented by Nossaman—as saying, “If these bees were listed as endangered, it would be devastating for the industry I represent.”

The issue the case centers on arose in 2018 when environmental groups petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to protect four species of native bumblebees under CESA. Their position was that while insects aren't identified by CESA as a species that can be protected, the listing extended to insects and other invertebrates under the definition of “fish” that is used in the Fish and Game Code. Farm industry groups opposed the action, arguing that CESA doesn't allow California to protect insects and that doing so could cause irreparable damage to their industry.

Commenting on the issue, Paul said listing bumblebees as endangered would have “harm[ed] farmers and orchardists.” He added, “Part of the challenge is that action would create regulatory uncertainty” as farmers that accidentally harmed four bee species in the course of their work would have been punished if the listing had stood, since accidents would be “ambiguous” and still prosecutable.

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