News in 1973 (II)

[… “News in 1973” continued from Part I]

Whilst the world’s major superpowers were heavily engaged in fighting the ‘cold war’, Britain was in conflict with Iceland over….. erm…. fish.

Specifically cod.

In a repeated series of confrontations about trawling rights around Iceland which the tabloid press dubbed “The Cod Wars“.

In 1972, Iceland made a unilateral decision to extend its territorial fishing waters. It then decided to police its new plan with its coastguards who – in a show of not inconsiderable warmongering – actually started cutting the nets of British trawlers fishing the new ‘restricted’ area.

Britain immediately retaliated by sending in Royal Navy warships to act as a – somewhat heavy-handed – deterrent. Despite this, conflicts continued, usually involving Icelandic coastguard vessels and British trawlers ramming one another on the open seas.

It sounds like a very bad comedy script doesn’t it, but it was a conflict with roots as far back as 1958. No complete compromise was reached between the two nations until 1976, and, even then, not fully ratified until 1994.

The 1973 conflict did not end until the 8th November, when a temporary agreement was reached whereby Britain would reluctantly accept the new annexation of the sea waters around Iceland, but only in return for permission to catch 150,000 tons of fish there, per year for the next two years. (No prizes for guessing when the next set of conflicts kicked off)

The USA fights wars to protect its gasoline needs. The UK fights wars to ensure a weekly supply of fish & chips on its dinner tables!

[“News in 1973” continues in Part III…]

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