Fish, fish and more (sustainable) fish

  • Forum
  • 11/25/2019

  • Dominique Nancy
Credit: Getty

In 5 seconds

Université de Montréal obtains a certification that attests to its commitment to source sustainable fish for the meals it serves on campus.

Université de Montréal has received the Marine Stewardship Council"s certification for its supply of fish from responsible fishing.

"Out of 2.5 tonnes of fish served annually via our Local Local food services, 1.5 tonnes come from responsible fishing," said Stéphane Béranger, UdeM's sustainable development coordinator. "Fish from aquaculture are not recognized by this certification. We are working on a separate approval for those."

In Quebec, the council has accredited only two universities (UdeM and McGill) and 33 other purveyors (restaurants, shops and factories).

The independent audit and certification was welcomed with enthusiasm Nov. 14 by those bodies at UdeM that manage the supply: the Sustainable Development Unit and UdeM Food Services (which oversees Local Local).

"The process was initiated two years ago and required major changes in how we do things, especially in terms of warehouse logistics at Local Local," said Béranger. "We also had to train employees and draft new clauses in our calls for tender."

To receive the MSC's stamp of approval, a fishery must be independently assessed for the impact of its activities on fish stocks and marine ecosystems. The fishery's distributor must also be approved. Throughout the supply chain, from ocean to plate, MSC-certified fish and seafood are separated from those that are not. They are clearly labelled so that they can be traced back to the certified sustainable fishery.

Organizations that want to obtain MSC certification must source from approved suppliers who ensure that the fishery is sustainable. This means that fishing respects "the seabed, does not deplete resources, minimizes by-catch and allows fishermen to live with dignity," according to the MSC.

Certified organizations must also meet strict standards. For example, Local Local must keep all invoices and delivery notes for MSC products for at least three years. In addition, the storage and preparation of MSC products must always be kept separate to ensure traceability. The same applies on the seller side. Fortunately, Local Local only serves one type of fish at a time for hot meals.

Pascal Prouteau, director of UdeM's Residences, Hotels and Restaurants division, and Aurélie Feuerstein, its chief executive, applauded the new certification.

"They lent themselves to the practice change exercise and quickly put in place measures to help employees take part in the accreditation process and thus offer a variety of more responsible products to customers," said Béranger.

"More than ever, students are asking for food that meets sustainable development criteria – and sustainable fishing is an essential element of that."