UBC Food Services commits to purchasing and serving only sustainable seafood for Vancouver and Kelowna campuses

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      In an effort to help address ocean health and marine ecosystems, UBC Food Services is undergoing a transition.

      Effective July 1, UBC Food Services will only purchase and serve Ocean Wise–recommended seafood.

      This new policy will affect food services at the university’s Vancouver and Okanagan campuses but will exclude franchises at those locations.

      UBC executive chef and culinary director David Speight explained in a news release that UBC is one of B.C.’s biggest bulk seafood purchasers, spending approximately $1.2 million on seafood every year. 

      UBC Student Housing and Hospitality Services managing director Andrew Parr explained that most Canadian universities have “significant food purchasing power that have influence on the food industry” and therefore “have a responsibility to create change, particularly when it comes to how we use earth’s natural resources”.

      Speight added that although UBC has been an Ocean Wise program partner since 2008, they had still been purchasing a significant amount of non-recommended frozen seafood.

      UBC executive chef and culinary director David Speight

      UBC Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability professor Kai Chan added that all seafood buyers need to take similar measures in order to lessen the impact that humans are having on changes happening in oceans.  

      “Oceans account for more than 70 per cent of our planet’s surface, and climate change and human consumption are altering aquatic ecosystems drastically,” Chan stated.

      One of the biggest threats to oceans is overfishing. The Ocean Wise Program states that approximately 90 percent of world’s fish stocks are either fully fished or overfished.

      According to the David Suzuki Foundation, the fishing industry has the largest ecological interaction with Canadian oceans and lakes.

      In a recent column, Suzuki stated that the Canadian government is currently looking at Fisheries Act updates to help fish stocks repopulate and ensure the survival of biodiversity.

      UBC's shift towards more diverse seafood selections will help offset higher costs of purchases from sustainable sources while helping to maintain biodiversity in ecosystems.

      The new approach will also include UBC Food Services working with local and smallscale sustainable seafood businesses.