The Royal Navy icebreaker HMS Protector is about to begin a joint operation with the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal New Zealand Navy to patrol Antarctic waters for illegal fishing activities. The operation is being undertaken ahead of but not in respect to Japan lifting a year long ban on it’s whaling fleet and allowing them to set sail for the southern waters in search of Minke Whales.
Japan imposed the halt on whaling after an international court ruled that previous Japanese whaling activities had been in violation of international law. The Japanese government, according to conservation groups, has now disregarded the court’s decision and are acting illegally. The Japanese government warned its crews that they could expect trouble from militant conservation groups but have not officially said anything regarding what to do if they encounter an Australian, British or New Zealand warship.
Speaking aboard the armed icebreaker while the vessel was docked in Hobart, Australia the UK High Commissioner to Australia, Menna Rawlings told reporters regarding the Japanese decision;
We’re talking to Australia about possible next steps and of course we’ll raise our concerns directly with the Japanese government as well.