It is a regional subsidiary body of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). It is the IOC Sub-Commission for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions and is responsible for the promotion, development and co-ordination of IOC marine scientific research programmes, the ocean services, and related activities, including training, education and mutual assistance (TEMA) in the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions. In establishing its programmes, it takes into account the specific interests and needs of the Member States in the region.

IOCARIBE can be envisaged as an international networking system created by the Governments of Member States, for the co-ordination and promotion of marine and coastal sciences and associated operational services in the region.

Its major objectives are to:

  1. Reinforce and broaden scientific co-operation, regionally and internationally through networking and institutional arrangements with organizations operating within and without the region, for example, UN bodies, IGOs, NGOs, the scientific community;
  2. Provide regional input to global ocean sciences and observation programmes;
  3. Promote and facilitate implementation of IOC global science programmes and ocean services at the regional level;
  4. Foster the generation of knowledge, sharing of information, expertise and experience on the wider Caribbean and its coastlines; and
  5. Assist Member States to develop their capacity to formulate national policies and plans to meet their needs in marine science and technology.