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Skidmore College

Dining Services achieves MSC certification

March 12, 2015
Mark Miller, dining services
Mark Miller

Skidmore College today became the first liberal arts college in New York to achieve Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Chain of Custody certification, the world’s leading certification program for sustainable, wild-caught seafood.
Skidmore’s Dining Services offers MSC certified sustainable seafood in the full-service Murray-Aikins Dining Hall, which serves more than 4,000 meals to students, faculty and staff on a daily basis. A variety of seafood is offered weekly on the dining hall menus and includes MSC-certified haddock, pollock, and cod. Skidmore plans to add more species of sustainable fish to the menu in the future. Starting today, MSC-certified haddock and other MSC certified species will be regularly featured on the Dining Hall menu cycle.  
MSC Chain of Custody certification ensures that in every step of the chain –- from the fishers, to the processor, to the distributor and the end user –- MSC-certified seafood is not mixed with or substituted for non-certified seafood. It also provides assurance that seafood bearing the blue MSC ecolabel can be traced back to a fishery that has been certified as sustainable and well-managed against the global, science-based MSC standard.
Commitment to sustainability initiatives is key
“Sustainability is a key theme in our dining facilities and we’re committed to reducing impact on the environment and increasing sustainable initiatives,” said Mark Miller, director of Skidmore’s Dining Services. “MSC Chain of Custody certification is a sign of our commitment to sustainability. Skidmore’s Dining Services believes that by obtaining MSC certification, college students and staff are able to contribute to the health of the world’s oceans by choosing seafood that can be traced back to fisheries that have achieved the MSC standard for sustainable fishing.”
Skidmore's Dining Services introduced MSC-certified seafood at the College’s fourth annual American Culinary Federation (ACF) Conference and Competition held in January. The three-day event offered chefs in the industry the opportunity to participate in demonstrations, educational sessions, and an ACF-sanctioned culinary competition during which MSC certified sea scallop samples were served and Skidmore’s team won a gold medal.
Additional sustainability initiatives led by Skidmore Dining Services include composting coffee grounds, zero-sort recycling, efforts to repurpose fryer oil product as fuel, eliminating trays from the dining hall, and re-fillable water-bottle stations that have saved the equivalent of 171,816 bottles to date from being used and discarded.
Culinary leadership rewards sustainable fishing
“We congratulate Skidmore College for their leadership and efforts to recognize and reward sustainable fishing practices through the achievement of MSC Chain of Custody certification,” said Geoff Bolan, MSC’s U.S. program director. “Skidmore Dining’s commitment to offer seafood that has been certified to the global, science-based MSC standard, will help to ensure sustainable seafood for this and future generations.”
Skidmore’s commitment to sustainability derives from the College’s Strategic Plan, which encourages environmental responsibility. On campus, this has included such initiatives as geothermal heating and cooling systems for approximately 40 percent of Skidmore’s buildings; the installation of one of the largest solar fields in upstate New York, which supplies about 12 percent of the College’s electricity; and programs such as waste audits, composting, the Skidmore Community Garden, and a bike share program.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international non-profit organization set up to help transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis. The MSC runs the only certification and ecolabeling program for wild-capture fisheries consistent with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization Guidelines for the Ecolabeling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries.  These guidelines are based upon the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing and require that credible fishery certification and ecolabeling schemes include the following:
· Objective, third-party fishery assessment utilizing scientific evidence;
· Transparent processes with built-in stakeholder consultation and objection procedures;
· Standards based on the sustainability of target species, ecosystems and management practices.                                                   
The MSC has regional or area offices in London, Seattle, Tokyo, Sydney, The Hague, Beijing, Berlin, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Halifax, Paris, Madrid, Stockholm, Santiago, Moscow, Salvador, Singapore and Reykjavik.
In total, over 350 fisheries are engaged in the MSC program with 252 certified and 100 under full assessment. Together, fisheries already certified or in full assessment record annual catches of close to ten million metric tonnes of seafood.  This represents over eleven per cent of the annual global harvest of wild capture fisheries. Certified fisheries currently land over seven million metric tonnes of seafood annually – close to eight per cent of the total harvest from wild capture fisheries.  Worldwide, more than 25,000 seafood products, which can be traced back to the certified sustainable fisheries, bear the blue MSC ecolabel.

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