Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Cod Wars (also called the Iceland Cod Wars) were a series of confrontations between the United Kingdom and Iceland over Iceland's claims of authority over tracts of ocean off their coastline as being their exclusive fishery zone.
As fish stocks diminish dramatically the scope for confrontation has increased. Throughout the world examples exist of systematic intrusions into areas considered either "protected" or under the jurisdiction of another country.
In 1972, Iceland unilaterally extended its territorial waters before announcing plans to reduce over-fishing. It policed its quota-system with warships, leading to a series of encounters with the British trawlers that fished the areas. As a result British Royal Naval vessels were employed to act as a deterrent against any future harassment of British fishing crews.
In 1976, a compromise between the two countries allowed a maximum of 24 British trawlers access to the disputed 200 nautical mile (320 km) limit. This did nothing to help slow the decline of the British fisheries, severely affecting the economies of northern fishing ports such as Grimsby and Kingston-Upon-Hull.
The Cod War Of 1893
The First Cod War
The First Cod War, in 1958, was the result of Britain's inability to prevent Iceland from extending its fishing limits from 4 nautical miles (7 km) to 12 miles (22 km) off Iceland's coast.
The Second Cod War
The second dispute occurred between 1972 and 1973. Iceland had extended its limits to 50 miles (93 km). An agreement between the two countries that bound British fishing to certain areas inside the 50 mile (93 km) limit resolved the dispute that time. The resolution was on the premise that British trawlers would limit their annual catch to no more than 130,000 tons. This agreement expired in November, 1975, and the third "Cod War" began.
The Third Cod War
The Third Cod War (November 1975 - June 1976) occurred between the United Kingdom and Iceland. Iceland had declared that the ocean up to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its coast fell under Icelandic authority. Britain did not recognize the 200 nautical mile exclusion zone, and as a result, there came to be an issue with British fishermen and their 'incursion' into the disputed zone. The 'war', which in fact was hardly a war at all with only a few shots being fired, saw British fishing trawlers have their nets cut by the Icelandic Coast Guard, and there were several incidents of ramming by Icelandic ships and British trawlers and frigates.
Iceland deployed a total of six Coast Guard vessels and two Polish-built stern trawlers which had been converted into Coast Guard vessels to enforce Icelandic control over fishing rights. In response, the United Kingdom deployed a total of twenty-two frigates, seven supply ships, nine tug-boats, and three support ships to protect its fishing trawlers.
A more serious turn of events came when Iceland threatened closure of the NATO base at Keflavík, which would, in the military perception of the time, have severely impaired NATO's ability to defend the Atlantic Ocean from the Soviet Union. As a result, the British government agreed to have its fishermen stay outside Iceland's 200 nautical mile exclusion zone without a specific agreement.
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