The Cod Wars (1950s-1970s)


The Cod Wars, a series of disputes between Iceland and the United Kingdom over fishing rights in the North Atlantic, unfolded between the 1950s and 1970s. The conflicts stemmed from Iceland’s desire to expand its exclusive fishing zone and protect its crucial cod fisheries.

During these confrontations, Icelandic authorities extended their territorial waters from 4 nautical miles to 12, and later to 50 nautical miles, which encroached upon traditional British fishing grounds. Tensions escalated as British trawlers clashed with Icelandic patrol vessels, resulting in damaged fishing gear and even collisions at sea.

The Cod Wars were marked by diplomatic negotiations, temporary resolutions, and escalating confrontations. The most significant conflict occurred in 1975 when Iceland declared a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, effectively banning foreign trawlers. This marked the end of the Cod Wars.

Ultimately, Iceland’s assertiveness in protecting its fishing industry prevailed, and it gained control over its marine resources. The Cod Wars remain an intriguing chapter in maritime history, illustrating the complexities of resource management and international disputes in the ocean.

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