Only 2.5 per cent of the world fleet has been certified to show they are in compliance with International Safety Management (ISM) standards, with only two more years before the ISM Code certification becomes mandatory, Sven Ullring, president and chief executive of Det Norske Veritas, says. Speaking at the Posidonia conference in Piraeus, he said the challenge for international shipping to comply with the ISM code was formidable. 'We are concerned to see how few shipping companies have started the process of becoming certified,' Mr Ullring said. He warned that if too many companies waited until the last moment to become certified, many would not fulfil the intention of the code. 'It was never meant only as tickets to trade,' he said. The experience of several major shipping companies shows considerable reductions in operating expenses, leading to reduced losses, after implementation of the ISM code. Areas where improvements are documented include: 25-35 per cent reduction in loss of man-hours. 30-40 per cent reduction in pollution fines. 50-90 per cent reduction in damage to cargo. Reduction of port state control and detentions. Mr Ullring urged the international shipping community to allow the pursuit of enhanced safety and improved performance be the driving force, and not only threatening deadlines. About 1000 ISM-certificate will be issued by the end of this year.