Seven companies have been recognised for their effort to boost and recover the Nile Perch, Uganda's leading export fish into the water resources.
Uganda's fish exports declined because of the illegal and irresponsible fishing. The country's exports climax was in 2005 when the sector was doing very well. Then the country exported about 36,000 tonnes worth $143 million (Shs514 billion).
But by 2014, the volumes had declined to 14,000 metric tonnes and so was the value which was worth $88 million (Shs316 billion).
Because of this, the companies instituted a self-monitoring campaign.
In an interview with Prosper Magazine, Ms Ovia Matovu, the chief executive officer, Uganda Fish Processors Association (UFPEA), said: "The process started with developing a code of conduct for all the industrial processors to follow by inspections guidelines that gives rules that have to be followed during the inspections. Each country was tasked to appoint a team of inspectors of high reputation that are incorruptible."
Ms Matovu said that the programme was strict in the sense that eleven of the factories which were found to be non-compliant were closed down.
The factories that have complied got certificates and will use this as a marketing tool to grow their business.
The first regional meeting was held in March 2007 in Nairobi among the three sister associations of UFPEA, AFIPEK (Kenya Fish Processors and Exporters Association) and TIFPA (Tanzania Industrial Fishing and Processors Association) where they agreed to introduce a self-monitoring and control mechanism.
After a series of consultative meetings at national level, the exercise was kick started by Uganda in August 2007 followed by Tanzania and finally Kenya. This was done in partnership with respective national competent authorities.
The idea was later supported at a high level by Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO) which organised meetings to harmonise the Nile Perch slot size from 40 cm to 50 cms across all fish factories in EAC whilst at the same time fight against illegal trade in undersized fish across the borders and in the local markets.
UFPEA chairman, Mr Fujal Dosuuami, who also owns Karmic Foods Ltd one of the companies that received a certificate, said: "Today I am happy to report that all our member companies were found compliant which shows the high level commitment which the fish industry exhibits towards the sustainability of fishery resources."
He said last year UFPEA assigned UGOCERT, a local certification company to review the inspection guidelines and inspect the individual companies and evaluate their compliance.
This activity was funded by CEDP (Competitive Enterprise Development Project) under Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU).