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Dal's latest catch: a new community partnership and seafood certification bring more sustainable seafood to Dal's dining rooms

Posted by Media Centre on February 24, 2015 in News, Environment, Community

HALIFAX, N.S., Feb. 24, 2015 - Dalhousie University and its main food services provider, ARAMARK, today received the first delivery of seafood purchased through Off the Hook -- a community-based fishery co-op whose members use “hook and line” and other environmentally friendly fishing methods. It marks the first time a large institution has purchased seafood through the program, currently managed by the Ecology Action Centre.

Speaking at an event today attended by university faculty and industry partners, Rochelle Owen, Dalhousie’s Director of Sustainability, said the new supplier partnership will complement other initiatives, including ARAMARK’s recent certification by the Marine Stewardship Council, designed to establish a comprehensive sustainable food program for the Halifax campus.

“With today’s delivery through the Off the Hook program, in addition to MSC certification, we are taking another step toward bringing more healthy, more local and more sustainable food options to students and the entire Dalhousie community,” stated Owen. “This is an excellent complement to ARAMARK’s long-standing Farm-to-Table program and other measures the university has undertaken in partnership with ARAMARK over the past six years.”

The shipment of about 40 lbs of haddock, pollock, cod, hake and shrimp were caught by independent Off the Hook-member fishers based in Canso, Freeport, and Port La Tour, Nova Scotia. It is the first shipment in an initial six-week pilot program that will see about 400 lbs of ground fish delivered to Dal’s kitchens every two weeks.

Every month, ARAMARK serves on average 1,500lbs of seafood in the university’s four Halifax-campus dining halls.

“This is a unique, one-of-a-kind agreement,” said Angela Emmerson, a registered dietitian and ARAMARK’s Manager of Wellness & Sustainability serving the Dal Halifax campus. “Normally we just pick up the phone, call our supplier, and the fish arrives. Under this arrangement, once it gets fully up and running, boats will be actually going out about every week and the fish that they catch will be for us. So it’s fresh, it’s local, it’s sustainable – and it means more fishers can get their boats out.”

Off the Hook, Atlantic Canada’s first community supported fishery, was established in 2010 by the Ecology Action Centre. Dalhousie is the first university in the region to join a growing roster of about 300 Nova Scotia customers ranging from individual households to restaurants and local retailers.

“We're excited that this partnership has come to fruition,” said David Adler, manager of the Off the Hook program. “Thanks to Dalhousie’s participation, we have a real opportunity here to show support for our coastal communities, while educating students on the importance of their seafood choices.” Adler noted that the program could also pave the way for learning opportunities for students in Dalhousie’s oceans and marine biology programs.

MSC Certification

The MSC Chain of Custody certification ensures that in every step of the supply chain – from the fishers, to the processer, to the distributor and the end user – MSC-certified seafood is not mixed with or substituted for non-certified seafood. A distinctive blue MSC ecolabel is subsequently displayed, confirming that the seafood comes from a fishery that has been certified to the global, science-based MSC standard.

“We congratulate Dalhousie University on achieving MSC certification and their commitment to sustainability,” said Jay Lugar, program director, Canada. “As the second university in Canada to attain certification, Dalhousie University is demonstrating its leadership in the importance of providing traceable, sustainable seafood for this and future generations.”

Other recent advances made by Dalhousie in the area of environmental sustainability include the establishment in 2012 of a food sub-committee of the President’s Advisory Council on Sustainability; the development of seafood purchasing guidelines in 2013, and, in December, 2014, becoming  the first university in Atlantic Canada to achieve a gold rating under the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) – a sustainability assessment and rating system for universities and colleges.

“These are great accomplishments for the university and the region, but they could not have been possible without the support of willing partners like ARAMARK and the Ecology Action Centre, and the generous support and guidance from our students and faculty,” said Owen. “After all, the environment and the food we eat is something we all share.”

About the Ecology Action Centre

Founded in 1971, the Ecology Action Centre (EAC) is Atlantic Canada’s oldest and largest environmental organization. The EAC’s Marine Program is committed to protecting marine ecosystems, maintaining sustainable fisheries and vibrant coastal communities. Its Off the Hook program was founded in 2010 with a mandate to deliver fresh fair fish to its 300 CSF members at 13 pick-up locations. Over the past several years, Off the Hook has been exploring new ways to aggregate and distribute sustainable seafood from small-scale fisheries to supply new markets, including restaurants, retailers, and institutions.

About The Marine Stewardship Council

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international non-profit organization set up to help transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis. In total, more than 350 fisheries are engaged in the MSC program with 252 certified, 99 under full assessment and 40 to 50 in pre-assessment. This represents over 10 per cent of the annual global harvest of wild capture fisheries. Worldwide, more than 25,000 seafood products, which can be traced back to the certified sustainable fisheries, bear the MSC ecolabel. For more information on the work of the MSC, please visit or follow us on Twitter (@MSCecolabel) and Facebook (


ARAMARK delivers experiences that enrich and nourish people’s lives through innovative food, facility, and uniform services. United by a passion to serve, our more than 250,000 employees make a meaningful difference each day for millions of people around the world.

Media contacts:

Rochelle Owen, Director, Office of Sustainability
Dalhousie University

Justin Cantafio, Sustainable Fisheries Campaigner
Ecology Action Centre

Jay Lugar, Program Director - Canada
Marine Stewardship Council


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