Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Cod Wars

The Cod Wars occurred in the 1950s and the 1970s when Iceland and Great Britain began fighting over rights to fishing in the North Atlantic waters that surrounded Iceland. Iceland relies on the fishing industry as a main source of income and as food. When the government of Iceland restricted Britain to a 50 nautical mile area in 1893 and Britain ignored it, continuing to fish in these areas anyway, gunboats were sent out to fine them and confiscate their catch. After quite a few "wars" after that due to Iceland creating more restrictions, the UK and Iceland finally came to an agreement. Any disputes between the two regarding fishing zones would be settled by the International Court of Justice.
In 1972, Iceland increased it's fishery limits to fifty nautical miles. This started the Second Cod War in which the British trawlers brought in the defense of Royal Navy ships. After several months of fighting and one accidental fatality, NATO stepped in and resolved the issue. Britain signed and agreement to stay out of the fifty nautical mile limit. A Third Cod War ensued when Iceland again increased it's fishery limits to two-hundred nautical miles in 1975. After another several months of fighting and ramming ships and a threat from Iceland to close the NATO base located in Iceland, the British government agreed to stay outside of the limit without special agreement. The British government ultimately settled with a multimillion-pound compensation to the many Icelandic fishermen who lost their livelihood due to the wars. The settlement did not take place until 2012, over 35 years after the Cod Wars had started.

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