The conclusion of the latest stage of annual fisheries negotiations has delivered historic measures to curb North Sea cod discards and a record increase in cod quota in 2009.It follows marathon talks in Oslo over quotas for fish stocks shared between the EU and Norway, which marks a significant step towards drastically reducing cod discard levels.

Measures agreed during the third and final round of talks include: a ban on the dumping of marketable fish; a 30 per cent increase in the Total Allowable Catch for North Sea cod – the biggest TAC increase in more than 20 years; additional measures to help fishermen make their cod quota last all year; an extension to other Member States of the innovative Real-Time Closures scheme pioneered in Scotland.

Fisheries secretary Richard Lochhead said: ‘This deal presents a golden opportunity to cut the level of good marketable fish that is dumped overboard and at the same time delivers a record increase in cod quota for our fishing communities.

‘The 30 per cent increase in cod quota is a fair reward for our fishermen who have already adopted trail blazing conservation measures and have now signed up to do more. Our ‘catch less, land more’ policy has been vindicated.

‘The Scottish government and industry working together have delivered a very good deal for our fishermen, fisheries conservation and consumers.

‘Many of the measures will be challenging for everyone, although I am confident Scotland will rise to the challenge of implementing this historic deal and that the level of cod discards will be slashed dramatically this coming year.

‘The 30 per cent increase in the North Sea cod quota is a welcome shot in the arm for our hard-pressed fishing communities and could be worth as much as £6 million by itself.

‘We have a huge responsibility to manage this increase responsibly. I know that our industry is committed to continuing with the pro-conservation measures we have introduced this year so that our precious marine resources are protected for future generations.

‘I was also very pleased with the overall EU/Norway deal on tranfers of fishing opportunities. We secured a 41 per cent decrease in the EU’s offer of blue whiting, significant receipts of haddock and, crucially, acceptance that the EU should not swap out any of our vital and precious mackerel quota.

‘Our key haddock quota has been reduced in line with the management plan but next year’s quota should not be far off actual landings in 2008.’