Ship management emerged as an important industry in its own right by the end of the 1980s, but there was a lack of any real forum for ship managers as a homogeneous group. The idea of founding a ship managers' association was first floated at the end of the 1980s, partly in response to what was perceived as unfair criticism of a growing industry sector.
Ship managers were being made scapegoats for the steady deterioration in shipping standards witnessed over the preceding two decades. The argument ran that with the replacement of traditional shipowner structures by new types of owner such as K/S investors, third-Party managers had become the instrument of cost cutting and, shoddy operations.
In fact, there have always been responsible ship managers and they were among the first to recognise a decline in standards. The ship management sector reacted with more determination than any other sector within shipping and embarked on a quality assurance system by which negative trends could be acted upon. As a result, the International Ship Managers' Association (ISMA) was created in the spring of 1991. And today, ISMA represents ship managers from 16 countries controlling a fleet of over 2,300 ships.
The Code was unanimously accepted by all founder members and the ISMA Code of Shipmanagement Standards is now generally recognised as the most comprehensive quality code for shipping in the world. In 1994 membership was extended to crew managers.
The idea behind the formation of ISMA was to improve standards and achieve a safer, more environmentally conscious, more reliable and more controllable shipmanagement industry. The cornerstone of ISMA membership is a commitment to establish and maintain a quality assured (QA) management system which meets the requirements of the Code of Shipmanagement Standards, and to submit these QA systems to audit by an independent body. Members must produce a QA system which has to comply strictly with the high standards set by the ISMA Code.
The ISMA Code exceeds the requirements of the ISM Code and also incorporates the requirements of ISO 9002 standards.
・To establish universal quality standards for ship management and operation;
・To clearly identify ship management as a recognised sector of the shipping industry;