Cod Wars

1958 iceland

The Cod Wars were a series of confrontations in the 1950s and 1970s between the United Kingdom and Iceland regarding fishing rights in the North Atlantic. In 1972, Iceland unilaterally declared an Exclusive Economic Zone extending beyond its territorial waters, before announcing plans to reduce overfishing. It policed its quota system with the coast guard, leading to a series of net-cutting incidents with British trawlers that fished the areas. As a result, a fleet of Royal Naval warships and tug-boats were employed to act as a deterrent against any future harassment of British fishing crews by the Icelandic craft.

The conflict involved several cases of vessels ramming each other. The dispute ended in 1976 after Iceland threatened to close a major NATO base in retaliation for Britain’s deployment of naval vessels within the disputed 200 nautical mile (370 km) limit. The British government conceded, and agreed that after 1 December 1976 British vessels would not fish within the previously disputed area.

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