The timely, free and unrestricted international exchange of oceanographic observation data is essential for the efficient acquisition, integration and use of ocean observations gathered by the countries of the world for a wide variety of purposes including the prediction of weather and climate, the preservation of life, the mitigation of human impact to the marine and coastal environment, as well as for the advancement of scientific understanding that makes them possible.

Recognizing the vital importance of these purposes to all humankind and the role of IOC and its programmes in this regard, the Member States of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission agree that the following clauses shall frame the IOC policy for the international exchange of oceanographic data and its associated metadata.

Clause 1

Member States shall provide timely, free and unrestricted access to all data, associated metadata and products generated under the auspices of IOC programmes.

Clause 2

Member States are encouraged to provide timely, free and unrestricted access to relevant data and associated metadata from non-IOC programmes that are essential to the following applications. These applications are the preservation of life, beneficial public use and protection of the ocean environment, the forecasting of weather, the stationary forecasting of the marine environment, the monitoring and modelling of climate and sustainable development in the marine environment.

Clause 3

Member States are encouraged to provide timely, free and unrestricted access to oceanographic data and associated metadata, as indicated in the above in Clauses 1 and 2, for non-commercial use by the research and education communities, provided that any products or results available as a result of such use shall be published in the open literature without delay or restriction.

Clause 4

With the objective of encouraging the government and non-government involved in gathering marine data to participate in the international oceanographic data exchange and maximizing the contribution of oceanographic data from all sources, this policy acknowledges the right of Member States and data producers to determine the terms of such exchange, provided that in case an applicable international data is available, it is required to agree with the manner of the convention.

Clause 5

Member States shall, to the best practicable degree, use data centers linked to IODEfs NODC and WDC networks as the long-term repositories for oceanographic data and associated metadata. IOC programmes shall co-operate with data contributors to ensure that data can be accepted into the appropriate systems and can meet quality requirements.

Clause 6

Member States shall enhance the capacity in developing countries to obtain and manage oceanographic data and information and assist them to benefit fully from the exchange of oceanographic data, associated metadata and products. This shall be achieved through the transfer of technology and knowledge with no-gap using appropriate means, including IOCfs Training Education and Mutual Assistance (TEMA) programme and through other relevant IOC programmes.


gFree and unrestrictedh means non-discriminatory and without charge. gWithout chargeh, in the context means the amount which does not exceed the cost of reproduction and delivery, without charge for the data and products themselves.

gDatah consists of oceanographic observation data, its derived data and gridded fields.

gMetadatah is "data about data" describing the content, quality, condition, and other characteristics of data.

gNon-commercialh means not conducted for profit, cost-recovery or re-sale.

gTimelyh in this context means the distribution of data and/or products sufficiently rapidly to be of value for a given application.

gProducth means a value-added enhancement to apply to a particular application.