IN THE NEWS OH COD, IT’S WAR
THE COD WAR
This year saw Britain and Iceland square up to each other in a war over… fish.
There had been tensions between the two countries since the 1890s over British trawlers fishing near Iceland, with the latter gradually extending exclusion zones. In September 1972, the limit reached 50 nautical miles.
British fishermen carried on as before, albeit with Rule, Britannia! played over their radios. The Icelandic Coast Guard retaliated by cutting their nets, at which point the Royal Navy intervened. Frigates started escorting trawlers and Nimrod jets flew over the area. Not having much of a navy to answer back, Iceland’s prime minister asked the US if it would bomb British ships. It politely declined. Meanwhile, in Reykjavik, the British embassy had its windows broken and was almost set on fire, too.
After a series of ramming incidents – during which an Icelandic engineer died – an agreement was negotiated. But when it expired in 1975, the Third Cod War promptly kicked off.