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The mission of IOI-USA is to provide an international center of excellence in education, training, development, and capacity building, with particular interest on coastal areas. Established at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg in 2006, by agreement between IOI headquarters in Malta and the University of South Florida, IOI-USA is the 26th IOI operational center, and the only one in the US. IOI-USA benefits greatly from its partnership with the University of South Florida's (USF) College of Marine Science and USF St. Petersburg. Together, they partner to host IOI-USA.
IOI-USA is timely and important in the context of recent reports by the Pew Oceans Commission and the US Commission on Ocean Policy established by President Bush in 2000. The Commissions have warned that the ecological collapse of our living seas represents a threat to the nation's security, economy, environment, and to human health. The US Commission recommendations also state "formal and informal ocean education should be strengthened to better engage the general public, cultivate a broad stewardship ethic, and prepare a new generation of leaders to meet future ocean policy challenges." This mandates an active and well-informed constituency that understands the importance of this in protecting their coastlines and marine environment. As part of an international multi-center organization, IOI-USA seeks to expand this initiative to a global scale.