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Historic freshwater society chooses Brisbane for overseas debut

A group of scientists who study the ecology of ponds, rivers, lakes, and streams will hold its annual meeting outside North America for the first time when it gathers in Australia in three years’ time.

The US-based Society for Freshwater Science, which dates back to 1953, said Australia’s strong freshwater science community was behind the historic decision to meet in Brisbane in 2021.

Australia has the largest SFS membership outside North America.

Professor Stuart Bunn, director, Australian Rivers Institute (ARI), Griffith University and Associate Professor Angus Webb of the Water, Environment and Agriculture Program, University of Melbourne together with the support of Australian  Freshwater Science Society and the New Zealand Freshwater Science Society, were the main drivers in bringing the event to Brisbane.

The 2021 Annual Meeting will be co-hosted with the Australian and New Zealand freshwater science societies, making it the biggest meeting of its kind to be held in Australia. It is expected to attract more than 1,000 delegates including strong representation from places like China, Japan and Korea.

Said Bunn: “With freshwater the most threatened ecosystem in the world, the meeting will provide Brisbane with the opportunity to showcase the city’s science capability and highlight Australia’s long standing reputation for the sustainable management of its water resources. Australia’s variable climate and arid zone and tropical river systems provided a unique environment for the world’s foremost freshwater scientists to explore.”

Associate Professor Webb said that momentum for an international meeting had been building within the Society for Freshwater Science for some time, but a compelling bid was lacking.

“As a regular attendee of the SFS meeting, I’ve talked to many people over the years who want to see the society become more international. But it took the attraction of Australia and Brisbane, and the excellent support from BCEC, to get the idea of an international meeting over the line,” he said.

Both Bunn and Webb are members of Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre ‘Convention Advocates Partnership’ – a group of local industry and academic leaders, founded in 2010, which work to secure major international meetings for the city.