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.

Sustainability at IOF

100% Ocean Wise Sustainable Seafood
When ordering seafood, the Institute ensures 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 have a working relationship 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.

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.

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 regularly organizes shoreline cleanups, 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 at UBC

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.

Ways you can help!

From choosing sustainable transportation options to making better consumer choices, there are many things the IOF community can do in their everyday lives to be more sustainable.

What Why Resources
Bus or bike to work and around Vancouver Lower carbon emissions compared to driving a car
  • IOF has bike racks – bring your own lock!
  • Visit UBC Bike Kitchen for repairs, bike parking cages and bike lockers at UBC
  • U-Pass is assessed as part of student fees, and offers transportation across the Lower Mainland at greatly reduced rates
  • Use Mobi, Vancouver’s public bike sharing system, around Vancouver
  • Check out Vancouver’s bike routes
  • Check out Translink bus routes
Carpool or carshare if you need a car Lower carbon emissions compared to driving solo
For long-distance travel for vacations or conferences, take the train, group coach or bus instead of plane Lower carbon emissions compared to taking a plane
What Why How
Bring your own reusable plates, mugs and utensils to IOF and UBC Reduces use of single-use plastics and utensils like paper plates, plastic utensils and related items
  • You can wash your plates and utensils at IOF sinks!
  • Eating out? Bring your own reusable container for leftovers to avoid disposable takeout containers
  • Campus groups like Sprouts provide food and encourage sustainable consumption, largely by donation
Try to buy local, in-season foods Limits transportation emissions and supports local communities
  • UBC Farm sells local, in-season food during growing season at their markets
  • Check out your local supermarkets for seasonal, local foods
Try to buy foods without plastic or less packaging, and in bulk Reduces plastic or packaging waste from food purchases
  • Check out Vancouver’s no-packaging grocer Nada
  • Bring your own reusable shopping bag
  • If plastic is the only option, choose numbers 1, 2 and 5 (compared to 3 and 6) – these plastics are more likely to be recycled and stay on land [1]
  • Try to avoid single-use plastics
If buying seafood, try to purchase sustainably Reduces chance of buying threatened species and supporting companies with inequitable fishing practices
If possible, try to consume less meat, especially red meat Production of meat, especially red meat, can emit large amounts of carbon emissions
  • Look to consuming a mostly plant-based diet if possible
Consumer Purchases
What Why How
Consider buying items, appliances and clothes second-hand as opposed to new Reduces waste by repurposing an older item that might have been thrown away
Donate old clothing and items, or recycle old items Reduces waste by repurposing an older item that might have been thrown away
Avoid buying products that are especially destructive to the environment, like microplastics Reduces the chance of your purchase harming the environment once it is unusable
Resource Conservation
What Why How
Try to conserve water Reduces water usage
  • Turn off taps when not in use
Try to conserve energy Reduces energy usage
  • Turn off lights when not in use
  • Turn down heat and put on sweater if possible
Limit paper and printing use if possible Reduces paper waste
  • Print double-sided
  • Consider keeping copies digital rather than printing if possible
Social Sustainability & Citizenship
What Why How
Be politically active Supporting officials who encourage sustainable action can lead to more sustainable changes on a wider level, like at the municipal or federal level
  • Write to elected officials, attend public meetings and contribute to public consultations for sustainable action
  • If you’re a Canadian abroad, you can vote through this process
  • If you’re an international student in Canada, you can view your country’s own voting procedures for voting abroad
Support Indigenous communities [2] Indigenous stewardship of their traditional territories produces the healthiest ecosystems, so supporting Indigenous rights can create as well as conserve healthy environments
  • Learn about and support the Coastal First Nations, an alliance of 9 BC nations who aim to protect the coast while building their economies
Participate in oceans outreach and sustainability outreach programs Outreach can help spread awareness and instigate change at both local and broader levels
  • The IOF Student Society organizes a Shoreline Cleanup every year – contact the team for details on how to join
  • The Ocean Leaders Program may offer opportunities for outreach
  • UBC has many environmental groups and clubs you can get involved in
Getting Involved in Vancouver

There are many ways to get involved in sustainability beyond IOF and UBC, including:

[1], [2] “Ten Things You Can Do to Protect Ocean Health“, written in collaboration by Ocean Leaders Fellows
Fiona Beaty, Cameron Bullen, Sara Cannon, Fanny Couture, Kaleigh Davis, Rocio Lopez de la Lama, Santiago de la Puente, and Heather Summers.