A Scottish Government minister has rejected claims that cod stocks in the North Sea are being badly affected by reduced life expectancy.
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead highlighted scientific research which estimates there are about 21 million mature cod, equal to about 65,000 tonnes.
It follows reports that fewer older fish are being landed at harbours and the claim that there may only be 100 cod aged over 13.
The Government said 60% of four-year-old cod are mature, rising to all cod by age six.
Mr Lochhead said: "The facts show that since 2006 the cod stock has been gradually improving. Scotland has played a big part in this by achieving the EU's biggest reductions in the cod discards, while we have led the way with sustainable fishing initiatives."
Schemes such as the use of selective fishing gear, to help avoid catching undersized and unwanted fish, help to conserve the species, he said.
"We are fully committed to ensuring a successful, long-term future for Scottish fisheries and that means following the scientific advice and continuing our measures to fish more sustainably," he said.