Since its establishment in 1960, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO has had the task of promoting international cooperation in the field of marine scientific research and coordinating programmes for marine scientific research, sustained long term ocean observation and capacity development. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the IOC is the international organization responsible for marine scientific research.
In 2017, the IOC General Assembly elected the President of the BSH, Monika Breuch-Moritz, as Vice Chair.
Germany is a founding member of the IOC. The German IOC Section (D-IOC) is responsible for coordinating the participation of German institutions and individual scientists and for coordinating with the competent ministries at federal and state level. The D-IOC usually meets twice a year to prepare the meetings of the IOC governing bodies (General Assembly and Executive Council) and to discuss general issues.
The Federal Foreign Office chairs the German IOC Section. The Secretariat of the D-IOC is located at the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency. It is headed by Karin Schröder, the head of the staff unit.