Plenary Focus: Sam Fanshawe Affirms Importance of Citizen Scientists, Volunteers in Marine Conservation

Sam Fanshawe, pictured here at a 2007 Marine Conservation Society beach cleanup, will be speaking 14 August as an IMCC3 plenary.

Sam Fanshawe, pictured here at a 2007 Marine Conservation Society beach cleanup, will be a plenary speaker at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress.

In 2013, Sam Fanshawe became the first British woman to receive the Rachel Carson Prize, an award in memory of the American writer, scientist, marine biologist and environmental ethics advocate. Executive director of Marine Conservation Society, Fanshawe was granted the international environmental award for her “outstanding leadership of the sea charity” and the scope of her conservation work. Fanshawe is actively involved in conservation research, marine conservation policy and public engagement. She has led several high-profile marine conservation campaigns in the UK.

Fanshawe will be speaking at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC3) on citizen science and public participation in UK marine conservation. “The marine environment has been a notoriously difficult and expensive environment to monitor, resulting in a paucity of knowledge and understanding about the distribution and state of marine species, habitats and impacts for many years,” she explained. “Effectively trained volunteers, combined with robust methodologies, have filled numerous gaps in our baseline knowledge of the UK marine environment and provided vital evidence to support marine conservation policies and protection measures.”

Fanshawe studied marine sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a focus on community ecology and interactions between sea otters, abalone and commercial fishermen. She joined the Marine Conservation Society, a UK-based charity, in 1994, coordinating the charity’s education and public engagement projects. The projects included Basking Shark Watch, Beachwatch (beach litter surveys) and Seasearch (underwater habitat and species surveys). This role developed into one focused on informing and influencing UK policies for marine wildlife protection and sustainable management, including protection of the basking shark and the Review of Marine Nature Conservation that led to the Marine & Coastal Access Act 2010. Director and Chief Executive since 2005, Fanshawe continues to champion the charity’s mission to inspire, inform, involve and influence everyone with a role to play in protecting seas, shores and marine life.

Fanshawe said she’s looking forward to emphasizing the important role of citizen science during her plenary speech at IMCC3. She stated, “This is a really exciting opportunity to reflect and applaud the role that citizen science and volunteers have played in marine conservation over the past 20 to 30 years and discuss with experts and practitioners from around the globe, the potential to build on this to protect the seas for our future.”

Fanshawe will be featured as an IMCC3 plenary speaker on 14 August 2014 at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow, a day showcasing strong female marine conservationists.

Samantha Oester is a Co-Chair and Communications Chair for IMCC3. She can be reached at for information on the IMCC3 Plenary Speakers and other facets of the Congress.



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