The International Safety Management (ISM) Code, due to become mandatory in July, could become just another certificate if the right of sovereign states to issue the certificate is abused, the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (Intercargo) warns. Intercargo chairman Sverre Jorgen Tidemand said: 'The only way to see that the ISM Code works is to shout when one sees a bogus certificate.' He told members of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association last week that it was unfortunate that the industry had to rely on self-regulation to make the ISM Code work. The code was developed by the International Maritime Organisation to ensure shipping companies around the world took safety issues seriously. The code requires shipping firms to develop a safety management plan and appoint a senior official to be responsible for its implementation. While port-state control increasingly was beginning to take shape, there also were fears that some shipowners could simply buy an ISM certificate, Mr Tidemand said. When such a practice was uncovered, media could assist to publicise it as a deterrent to others, he added. Asked whether naming offenders could be a deterrent measure, Mr Tidemand said exposure would be risky or difficult under the framework in which the association operated. 'If we start to name names, it would mean we have to go through an investigation and it is not the job of an association like ours,' he said. Mr Tidemand said owners of sub-standard ships were at the root of safety problems. In the absence of effective flag-state control or self-regulation, sub-standard operators had been able to prosper at the expense of quality owners. 'The barriers to entry into dry bulk shipping must be raised,' Mr Tidemand said, adding that only dedicated people should be allowed to enter the trade and the ISM Code should help to ensure this. Intercargo's director-general Bruce Farthing said flag states also could pass responsibility of safety to classification societies. He said the safety record in the dry bulk sector was marginally better than other sectors. This did not mean that the association was satisfied with present safety levels and it was striving to improve, he added. Asked about reports that a 29,222 deadweight tonne bulk carrier had broken in two off Newfoundland recently despite being up to date in all survey requirements, Mr Tidemand said the association was concerned about the incident. 'It might be that we don't know the technicality of the things involved,' he said. There were three levels of safety, involving vessel structure, its operation, and the way the company's base handled safety operations. Although these were being tackled, he urged the shipping industry to spare no expense and to hold thorough probes to get to the bottom of causes of ship casualties.