At the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, sustainability is not only something we are committed to as an Institute, but also something we strive for in all that we do as a community. From encouraging low-emissions transportation to curbing carbon emissions to participating in local shoreline cleanups, we are constantly taking actions to become better leaders in environmental and social sustainability at UBC and beyond.


Carbon Offset

We are currently developing and evaluating a carbon emissions tracking program for the Institute. This will be linked to an offset system, with connections to other relevant groups at UBC. In 2019, Seth Wynes and Dr. Simon Donner of IOF and UBC Geography published a study about emissions from UBC’s business-related air travel and what actions we can take to reduce this and cut back on overall emissions. Our own carbon offset initiative aims to collect carbon tracking information and mitigate emissions across the Institute, with a specific focus on travel.


100% Ocean Wise Sustainable Seafood

When ordering seafood, the Institute has ensured that what our community is consuming is Ocean Wise-recommended and therefore sustainably fished. As of 1 July 2019, UBC adopted a similar policy, in which it announced it would only purchase and offer 100% Ocean Wise recommended sustainable seafood in its food services.


Skipper Otto

We work closely with Skipper Otto Community Supported Fishery (CSF), an organization founded in 2008 that supports local Canadian fishing families by connecting them directly to consumers. As the first CSF in Canada and the second worldwide, Skipper Otto aims to protect ocean resources and increase food sovereignty by creating an alternative to the dominant model of export-oriented industrial food production.

A number of our IOF community members are active members of the group and take part in the initiative.


Local & Sustainable Catering

For our events we aim to support local and sustainable catering businesses, many of which are located within UBC and also source their produce locally, to reduce transportation-related emissions in our food consumption.


Low-Emissions Transportation

Many staff, faculty and students bike or take public transit to work, a step towards reducing emissions that the Institute strongly encourages. Please take a look at UBC's Transportation Maps and the City of Vancouver's Cycling Routes and Maps to learn how you can plan your route to UBC.


Videoconferencing Program

IOF holds many seminars throughout the year to enrich student learning and engagement, and we are actively looking to reduce our carbon footprint with respect to visiting scientists. Currently, we are developing a program to have researchers deliver their talks through videoconferencing rather than having them fly in, while simultaneously improving our videoconferencing capabilities to support this.


IOF Building Certified LEED Gold

The Aquatic and Ecosystems Research Laboratory (AERL) building, where IOF is based, is certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold and in 2011 received the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal in Architecture for sustainable design.


Student Society Beach Clean-Up

The IOF Student Society organizes various shoreline cleanups throughout the year to pick up garbage along local beaches like Wreck Beach, in order to help make our oceans cleaner and healthier. They also collect data as part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup Project, the results of which contribute to a better understanding of what kinds of garbage are most prevalent on these beaches.

In 2018, an analysis of shoreline cleanup data by students Cassandra Konecny, Vanessa Fladmark and Santiago De la Puente found that cigarettes account for half of waste recovered on Vancouver and Victoria shorelines. This project, which arose from the Training Our Future Ocean leaders program at UBC, appeared in Marine Pollution Bulletin.


Sustainability Committee

Our Sustainability Committee was established to bring together a core group of individuals who are actively working to further discuss, plan and implement sustainability initiatives for the Institute.

If you have any questions or suggestions for sustainability at IOF, please reach out to Colette Wabnitz (, Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor ( or Caroline Graham (

UBC Sustainability Initiative

Established in 2010, the UBC Sustainability Initiative aims to connect, curate and facilitate a wide breadth of sustainability programs and activities across campus.

Some of their projects and programs include:


Ranked #1 in Climate Change Action and Sustainable Cities

In April 2019, UBC was ranked number one in the world for taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, and was also ranked first in Canada for making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, according to Times Higher Education (THE).


UBC Green Buildings

As part of UBC’s Sustainability Initiative, the university aims to create buildings that encourage human and ecological well-being, through initiatives like the Green Building Action Plan and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for all UBC buildings from 2008 onwards.


UBC Sustainability Fellowships

Part of UBC’s Sustainability initiative, Sustainability Fellowships are awarded to full-time UBC Vancouver faculty members who are leading the design of new sustainability courses and programs through an Interdisciplinary Education Grant. Dr. Simon Donner of IOF and UBC Geography is one of the 2018-2019 Sustainability Fellows.