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Society Statements

Racism and Equity

Acts of racism and oppression call us to assess our own actions and those of our Society. We stand with all people demanding justice, and acknowledge the personal pain that is being experienced by many around the world, particularly underrepresented minorities, from recent events. We are vigorously committed to ensuring that the sciences can be a welcoming place for all people, especially those who have historically been discriminated against. The Society for Freshwater Science calls upon our members, colleagues, and friends, to join us in advocating for and creating safe and equitable environments in which to live, work, and practice science.

Approved by the ExComm in 2020


The Society for Freshwater Science is dedicated to promoting diversity among its members and welcomes and encourages participation from all, regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, physical or mental difference, religion, age, or national origin. The SFS is inclusive and accepting of all people and built on tolerance, respect, and a welcoming spirit at all of our activities. We strive to actively promote diversity across all levels of our society including members, leaders, committees, and staff. We value a diverse community and believe it fosters a richer understanding of freshwater ecosystems and conservation of global freshwater resources. Members with questions, comments or concerns about SFS diversity issues are encouraged to raise them with a member of the SFS Education and Diversity Committee.

Approved by the SFS in 2016


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.

Passed by ExCom on 6 June 2004, and the membership on 7 June 2004

Policy & Procedures for Science & Education Advocacy

The Society for Freshwater Science (SFS) 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 1600 members are employed by private firms, universities, and government agencies throughout the world and represent a wealth of independent scientific knowledge and experience. It is incumbent upon SFS to make available its collective expertise and knowledge to educate and advocate for the use of science-based insights as a basis for decision-making. Providing and advocating for science-based insights is beneficial to SFS and its members, as well as agencies having to make critical decisions regarding aquatic resources. 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.


  1. SFS shall be operated exclusively for scientific and educational purposes within the mandates of Section 501(c)(3) of the USA Internal Revenue Code.
  2. 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.
  3. No substantial part of the activities of SFS shall consist of carrying on propaganda, lobbying[1], or otherwise attempting to influence legislation except as permitted by Section 501(c)(3) of the Code.
  4. SFS shall not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements concerning) political campaigns on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.


  1. Requests for letters or statements should be submitted to the SFS President, with sufficient background information concerning the requested action, along with contact information. Requests should indicate relevance to the SFS Purpose (Article 2 of Constitution), and, where appropriate, suggest solutions and desired actions. Notwithstanding the information presented in the request, the SFS President reserves the right to form an independent opinion, based on the best available science, and provide a response that reflects this independent, science-based insight. Letter requests may originate from members or nonmembers.
  2. To support the President in producing position statements aligned with the Policy stated above, the Science and Policy Committee plus the full Executive Committee will evaluate the respective statement and advise the President for his/her signature.
  3. A two-thirds majority vote among the Executive Committee is required before a letter or position statement can be produced by the President on behalf of SFS.
  4. The final letter shall be published in the SFS Bulletin in either electronic or paper form along with a 1-2 paragraph history of the issue if deemed necessary by the SFS Officers.

[1] FOOTNOTE: For definition of "lobbying", the society follows that of the Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest website, which explains that with few exceptions, nonprofit organizations may not use governmental funds for lobbying. Nonprofits under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code that receive federal grants must follow accounting procedures administered by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB Circular A-122, Cost Principles for Nonprofit Organizations includes rules that govern whether and under what circumstances the government will pay for costs incurred by contractors and grantees. As a condition of obtaining federal grants, grantees are required to make certain that none of the funds from those grants are used for lobbying or political activity as defined by OMB. This is consistent with the Certification Regarding Lobbying that was required by the EPA as a condition of their grant to SFS.] In this regard, SFS will not use grant funds to prepare advocacy statements.

Passed by ExCom at the 2006 annual meeting on June 6, 2006