The first National Ocean Conference was held in Monterey, California, 11-12 June. It really began in April 1977 when 70 members of Congress sent a letter to the President proposing a "White House Conference on the Oceans." That the United Nations had declared 1998 the "International Year of the Ocean," it was appropriate that the United States celebrate the declaration with a top-level meeting to review its national ocean interests.
President Clinton agreed. He directed the Secretaries of Commerce and Navy to organize and host the National Ocean Conference. Invitations were sent to 500 selected officials in state and local governments, industry, academe, and the environmental community. The President and Vice President attended, along with a top-level cadre of senior government officials. These included: