The figures also coincide with a dearth of minke whales around Shetland, the leading spot in Britain for sightings.
Speaking on Shetland yesterday, wildlife expert Hugh Harrop said: "Usually we see 20 or 30 minkes during the season. This year there have been only two or three. It may be wrong to draw conclusions. But the large percentage increase of killings in the North Sea this year is certainly interesting.
"Whether the whales' absence is connected with low availability of fish stocks or to the fact that northern part of the North Sea is gradually being depleted of whales, remains to be seen."Reuse content