Certifiable Sea Pirates, Less Trendy Food, and other legal news to ponder from Cape Law Firm
Is Our Seafood a Certifiable Mess?
The new Netflix documentary, Seaspiracy, has at least one trademark owner scrambling for cover. The scandal-style movie sets out to expose the global fishing industry as the greatest threat to marine life and the world’s oceans, taking particular aim at the “Certified Sustainable Seafood MSC www.msc.org” certification mark – a special type of trademark. Certification marks are used to signify goods or services meet a set of standards or criteria (i.e., quality, accuracy, geographic origin, or other particular characteristics).
The “Certified Sustainable Seafood MSC www.msc.org” mark is intended to certify seafood’s compliance with the Marine Stewardship Council’s “standards of environmentally sustainable practices, minimizing environmental impact, supply chain management, eco-labeling, and overall effective management changes and trends in sustainability best practices.” But the documentary depicts much of the global fishing fleet as overharvesting fish, killing dolphins, harvesting sharks for their fins, dumping plastic fishing nets, using slave labor, and other heinous activities. In short, the documentary portrays the Certified Sustainable Seafood mark as a meaningless marketing ploy. What does this mean for the mark? A certification mark is subject to cancellation if (i) the registrant doesn’t control, or is unable to control its use, (ii) it is used for purposes other than certification, or (iii) if the mark was obtained fraudulently. Seaspiracy essentially alleges all of these grounds in the movie.
Maybe it’s time to give crawfish a try!
Speciality crops hit by Covid
A recent article revealed that Covid’s casualties include speciality crops and the farmers that grow them. After Covid forced restaurants, hotels, and other food-centric businesses to shut down, the food supply chain was upended in all sorts of crazy ways. Some staples in the cupboard were immediately in short supply, while many produce items such as potatoes, fruits, and specialty greens had nowhere to go, causing growers to dump crops on a large scale. Unique and trendy varieties targeted at chefs and restaurants were hit especially hard because the market simply evaporated. As a result many growers are going back to basics with “storage” crops with longer shelf-lives and everyday vegetables that have steady, consistent demand in the marketplace. Commodity crops are widely expected to surge to record acreage even though USDA’s initial prospective planting reports haven’t reached that level yet.
One the one hand, its a shame to see innovative farming take a step back, but the silver lining will hopefully be an abundant supply of staple items. Now growers just have to hope that the focus on the basics doesn’t hurt prices with oversupply.