A MARINE expert from Lea will head up powerful European environmental group Seas At Risk, after being voted in unanimously as its chairman.

Despite Samatha Fanshawe, 48, being based in landlocked Ross-on-Wye with the Marine Conservation Society, she will now chair one of the continents foremost voices on shipping, fisheries, offshore drilling and the protection of marine life.

Seas At Risk comprises 22 non-governmental environment organisations across 13 countries, with Mrs Fanshawe taking over from Herman Verhij of the Dutch Wadden Society

The MCS chief executive said: “It’s a real honour and privilege to take on the role of chair at an organisation such as Seas at Risk that has established itself as a leading authority on marine protection amongst European politicians and industry groups.”

She added that the appointment will also raise the profile of the MS within the UK.

“This will strengthen our reputation as the UK’s voice for our seas.

“And also as charity that collaborates successfully in the UK and internationally to protect our seas, beaches and marine life and the jobs that depend on them for the future.”

Monica Verbeek, Seas At Risks’ executive director, said that she is looking forward to the “wealth of experience” Mrs Fanshawe will bring to the role from her background in marine protection.

Find out more about the work of MCS at www.mcsuk.org