The Regional Sub-Commission operates within the framework of the general policy of the IOC and is an intergovernmental subsidiary body responsible for the promotion, development, and coordination of the Commission's marine scientific research and technology development programmes, the ocean services, and related activities including Capacity Development in the wider Caribbean region, through the concerted action of IOCARIBE Member States.

However, the Sub-Commission's programmes are not a mere reflection of the IOC Global Programmes, but reflect the regional priorities, needs and commitments towards the achievement of regional sustainable development. The work of the Sub-Commission must be driven from the region and carried out by the Member States of the region. The Sub-Commission's work must provide them with appropriate scientific inputs and with necessary elements to formulate their own marine policy instruments.

The work of the Sub-Commission should preferably be based on the participation of national institutions which are committed by their Governments to participating in the IOC regional activities. In this way, a sustainable development on the basis of cooperation of national and international institutions may be achieved.