In case you haven't heard, 1998 is "The International Year of the Ocean" (YOTO). It was created in 1994 by a resolution of the U.N. General Assembly. It urged member states to develop national programs that will come under the umbrella of YOTO in 1998. The United States got on board in 1997 when the House of Representatives—but not the Senate—passed a resolution of proclamation.
U.N. planning for YOTO began in 1993 with a resolution passed by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). The United Nations stated the overall objective of YOTO is: "To focus and reinforce the attention of the public, governments, and decision-makers at large on the importance of the oceans and the marine environment as resources for sustainable development."
The Paris-based IOC is part of the United Nations' Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Its membership represents almost all of the coastal nations in the world. Its primary role is to coordinate, facilitate. and report on international marine research.