Image by Mark Kirkland  


At Seasearch, as part of the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), we take your privacy very seriously and are committed to protecting your personal information.

Please read this policy, along with our website terms and conditions, carefully to understand how we collect, use and store your personal information. 

There are three main scenarios through which we (Seasearch) collect personal information from you.

Who we are

The MCS is a registered charity in England and Wales 1004005 and in Scotland SC037480. Registered company limited by guarantee in England and Wales 02550966. 

The Seasearch programme is managed by employees of the MCS - the National Coordinator, Data Officer and Administrator - and delivered by regional coordinators who are either under contract to the MCS or employed by a local Wildlife Trust. Seasearch is not a separate charity. The MCS and local Wildlife Trusts have their own privacy policies; this policy is concerned specifically with Seasearch, and ‘we’/’us’ in this document refers to Seasearch alone.

Registered office:

Overross House
Ross Park
HR9 7US.

VAT number: 321491232. 

Data Controller

The MCS is the ‘controller’ of your personal information and is responsible for it. This privacy policy explains how Seasearch collect and use the personal information you give us, and how that fits into the wider MCS infrastructure. 

Contact details

The MCS Data Protection Officer is Nicola Spencer.

If you have any questions regarding these privacy policies, please write to:

The Data Protection Officer
Overross House,
Ross Park,

Email us at: [email protected]

Or call us on +44 1989 566017

And make it clear that your enquiry relates to Seasearch.

This policy includes:

  • What we do
  • The information we collect
  • How we use your information
  • Data sharing
  • Legal basis for processing
  • Controlling your data
  • Changes to this privacy policy

What we do

Seasearch has been collecting information about marine habitats and species for over thirty years. We train volunteer scuba divers and snorkellers to record what they see when out diving and snorkelling. We collect those submitted records, verify them and amalgamate them into a database (currently the industry-standard Marine Recorder). The main aim is to map out the various types of sea bed and record the species distributions found in the near-shore zone around the whole of Britain and Ireland (including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man).

There are three main areas of our work which involve us collecting your personal data and information:

  • Training courses
  • Organised surveys
  • Collecting biological records

The information we collect

  • Name, address, telephone number(s) and email address.
  • For organised dive surveys – your dive qualification, proof of third-party liability insurance and a medical declaration that you are fit to dive.  If you have additional health issues that do not affect your fitness to dive but may be pertinent in the event of a medical emergency, we will ask you to supply these in a sealed envelope for the duration of the dive survey(s); they will be returned to you or destroyed at the end of that event. Contact details for someone who may be contacted in the event of a medical emergency are also contained in this sealed envelope so they are not processed except in an emergency/medical situation.
  • For biological records – your name and contact details (for verification purposes), including the location, date and time of the field survey observation(s).
  • Your consent for further contact and information on Seasearch activities and to having your photograph taken on Seasearch events.

How we use your information

  • For our training courses and Seasearch survey dives, we securely store that information as part of your person training and qualification record. We keep this for seven years and two years respectively.  This information is also used to ensure we meet the requirements for our insurance purposes.
  • In the case of any partner organisations delivering Seasearch, this information will not be shared with any part of those organisations including membership and marketing etc. Seasearch will not share your contact details with any other part of the MCS without your explicit consent.
  • If you have requested to be included in our mailing list, we will send you information about forthcoming events and update you on Seasearch news and activities; you can withdraw consent and unsubscribe/opt-out at any time.
  • Biological records submitted to Seasearch are publicly available via the NBN Atlas and shared with other organisations (see note below) for the benefit of the conservation and understanding species distribution and ecology in a UK or international context. These records will remain part of the scientific record indefinitely.
    • A biological record at minimum consists of three main elements: species, position, and time. To help with quality and verification checks, most biological records also name the recorder name as a fourth element (and may optionally contain determiner and verifier names).
    • A biological record may therefore name a person at a specific location and time. No other personal details are shared, but we may use your contact details if we have any queries about your submitted records.

Data sharing

We share biological records and have data sharing agreements with the following organisations:

  1. Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)
  2. The archive for marine species and habitats data (DASSH)
  3. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording (CEDaR)
  4. NatureScot
  5. Natural Resources Wales
  6. Natural England
  7. National Biodiversity Network
  8. Guernsey Biological Records Centre
  9. Jersey Biodiversity Centre
  10. Biodiversity Ireland

We are also part of the Manx Biological Recording Partnership (Manx Biodiversity).

These organisations are bound by the own privacy policies under the same legislation.

Legal basis for processing

Under the relevant data protection legislation, we must have a legal basis for collecting and using your information, this will be one of the following:

  • We require the information to perform a contract with you (e.g. to deliver a Seasearch training course).
  • We have your consent to do so (e.g. to receive information on our Seasearch activities), and in this case you have the right to withdraw or refuse to give your consent at any time.
  • Where the processing is necessary for our legitimate interests (and those legitimate interests are not overridden by your interests or fundamental rights and freedoms).
  • Where we need to comply with a legal or regulatory obligation.

If you have any questions about or require further information concerning the legal basis on which we collect and use your information, including regarding our legitimate interests, please contact us (via the Data Protection Officer at the address above). 

Controlling your Data

Your principal rights under data protection law are:

  1. The right of ACCESS. You have the right to request access to a copy of the personal information that we hold about you, how and why we use it, who we share it with, how long we keep it for and whether it has been used for any automated decision making. You can make a request for access free of charge. Please make all requests for access in writing, and provide us with evidence of your identity.
  2. The right to RECTIFICATION. You can ask us to change or correct any inaccurate or incomplete personal information held about you.
  3. The right to ERASURE. You can ask us to delete your personal information where it is no longer necessary for us to use it, you have withdrawn consent, or where we have no lawful basis for keeping it.
  4. The right to RESTRICT PROCESSING. You can ask us to restrict the personal information we use about you where you have asked for it to be erased or where you have objected to our use of it.
  5. The right to OBJECT TO PROCESSING. You can object to our processing of your personal information where we are relying on a legitimate interest (or those of a third party) and there is something about your particular situation which makes you want to object to processing on this ground. Please contact us as noted above, providing details of your objection.
  6. The right to DATA PORTABILITY. You can ask us to provide you or a third party with some of the personal information that we hold about you in a structured, commonly used, electronic form, so it can be easily transferred.
  7. The right to WITHDRAW CONSENT. If we rely on given consent to use your personal information (e.g. to send you information about Seasearch activities), you can withdraw your consent at any time.
  8. The right to COMPLAIN TO A SUPERVISORY AUTHORITY. If you consider that our processing of your personal information infringes data protection laws, you have a legal right to lodge a complaint with a supervisory authority responsible for data protection. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), is UK’s independent body set up to uphold information rights (

Please be aware some of these rights are limited depending on the purpose for which we have collected or are retaining your personal data.

Changes to this privacy policy

This policy may change from time to time. If we make any significant changes to this policy, we will publicise these changes clearly on our website or contact you directly with more information.

This privacy policy was last updated on 22 June 2021.

Training Delegates Privacy Policy
Organised Surveys Privacy Policy
Collecting Biological Records Privacy Policy