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Science & Policy

Science-based Policy of the Society for Freshwater Science

The Society for Freshwater Science is an international, scientific organization whose purpose is to promote better understanding of freshwater biota and advocate their critical role in the natural functioning of aquatic ecosystems, which supports so many public needs and activities. Our hundreds of members are employed by private firms, universities, and government agencies throughout the world and represent a wealth of independent scientific knowledge and experience. As professionals of aquatic sciences, we are obligated to provide clear, accurate, and timely information to encourage open discourse, both professional and public, and to participate in the debate that contributes to informed choices by the public. We are also obligated to select for ourselves and to recommend to others courses of action we believe will protect and rehabilitate the biological diversity and integrity of aquatic ecosystems.

The policy of SFS is to advocate for the use of the best available science for decision-making relating to freshwater ecosystems and to communicate this science as necessary to inform the public, managers, and decision-makers. The SFS Bylaws indicate that the SFS’ President is responsible for the business of the Society and is thereby entrusted to write letters on behalf of the society in support of scientific institutions or issues that promote SFS purpose of understanding the benthic biological community and aquatic ecosystems.

Policy Statements

Policy Statements are written to proclaim the essential core values of the society to all members, the public and government agencies. Policy Statements are clear, concise statements each representing a specific science-based concept supported by the society. In some cases, a policy guidance report or document is available elaborating specific Policy Statements. Once approved by the Board of Directors, these Policy Statements can be cited by the President of SFS, or designated officer, in correspondence to any group or individual to indicate the position of the society on various environmental issues without restriction.

The Science and Policy Committee recommend the following Policy Statements:

Note: The order of the statements is not indicative of importance

  1. Evolution is the basic process for speciation and natural selection is the basic mechanism for evolution.
  2. Species are the fundamental units of the biological world.
  3. The recognition of species through taxonomic, systematic and ecological studies is essential for biological, ecological and bioassessment understanding.
  4. Since aquatic species integrate all aspects of the environment, measures of species composition provide a better means for assessing water quality conditions than measures of physico-chemical variables in all aquatic ecosystems, i.e. lotic waters, lentic waters, wetlands.
  5. A permanent, national bioassessment program that assesses water quality conditions and communicates this information to the public and policymakers is essential to safeguard ecosystem integrity and public health.

    View the statement. Passed 2005.
  6. Environmental health and ecosystem integrity are critical for maintaining human health and the long-term economic sustainability of human society.
  7. Aquatic ecosystems continuously exchange nutrients, water, energy, and biota with the adjacent terrestrial lands and thus are ecologically dependent upon these riparian terrestrial ecosystems, especially flowing water ecosystems.
  8. Human activities on land (e.g. farming, urban development) and in fresh waters (e.g. dams, drainage structures) are altering the hydrological and water quality conditions of natural habitats and thus causing the loss of species at a rate unprecedented in Earth’s history.
  9. The loss of any species (extinction or extirpation) reduces the natural redundancy that safeguards the integrity of ecosystems and thus imperials the ability of ecosystems to adapt to future environmental changes.
  10. The intentional or accidental transport of species outside of their natural range threatens the species and ecological conditions of those invaded ecosystems (i.e. biological pollution).
  11. There is a limit to the size of the human population and total economic activity that the Earth can continuously sustain; beyond this limit, critical ecosystem services will degrade, such as the provision of clean water, breathable air, and fish and other food products.
  12. SFS supports changes in human economic and population growth that focus on sustainable resource use and the maintenance of ecosystem services critical to both natural systems and human civilization.

    View the statement. Passed 2010.

Joint Commentary and Statements on Policy

Current SFS Policy Guidance Documents

  1. SFS Statement Endorsing Evolution by Natural Selection.
  2. SFS Statement on Bioassessment.

Other statements

Do you have an opinion on these issues?

While SFS drafts statements on behalf of our membership, you can make a difference individually by contacting your congressional representatives. Find your representatives.

SFS Statement on Policy and Procedures for Science & Education Advocacy

Passed 2006

SFS Statement on Ethics

Passed 2004

SFS Diversity Statement

Draft approved by SFS BOD December 2015
Pending membership approval

What's New
  • Making Waves Podcast Episode 26: Carbon Fates, Dr. Erin Hotchkiss more
  • Does Cultural Diversity Matter to Scientific Societies? Read the President's Environment more
  • SFS Student Presentation Awards! more
  • In the drift just fell into your sampler! The Spring 2015 Newsletter is here! more
  • Making Waves Podcast Episode 14: Nitrogen Fixation in a Warming World, Dr. Jill Welter more
  • The President's Environment: What's New? more
  • Request to Increase Freshwater Science Access Fees more
  • Longtime SFS member and Oregon State University professor Dr. Norman Anderson passed away January 13, 2018.

  • 4th International Symposium of the Benthological Society of Asia and 2nd Youth Freshwater Ecology School August 19-25, 2018

  • 2018 Benthic Ecology Meeting (BEM) in Corpus Christi, Texas, USA: 28-30 March 2018.


  • The deadline to submit proposals for AQUATROP Special Sessions or Symposiums is now November 17, 2017

  • SFS joins CASS in condemning silencing of EPA scientists


More SFS News...

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