The North Atlantic Ocean became the battleground for the Cod Wars, named for the lucrative fisheries supported by the region's schools of cod. The Cod Wars, waged between the United Kingdom and Iceland, ended with Iceland successfully extending its territorial waters to a now-standard 370 kilometers (200 nautical miles) beyond its shorelines.

Photograph by James A. Sugar
  • On September 1, 1958, the United Kingdom and Iceland began a long series of conflicts over fishing rights in the North Atlantic Ocean. Iceland expanded its territorial waters, while Britain claimed its traditional fishing spots off the Icelandic coast. Both the United Kingdom and Iceland maintained lucrative cod fisheries, so the conflicts were nicknamed the “Cod Wars.”
    Although the Cod Wars had only one fatality (an Icelandic engineer), the conflict involved many incidents of violence between fishing trawlers and warships. British military vessels rammed Icelandic fishing ships, while the Icelandic Coast Guard routinely cut the nets of British trawlers.
    The Cod Wars continued, off and on, for nearly 30 years. In 1976, the United Kingdom recognized Iceland’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), extending 370 kilometers (200 nautical miles) beyond its coast. Today, the EEZs of all nations extend to this perimeter.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    claim Verb

    to demand as a right.

    coast Noun

    edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: coast
    coast guard Noun

    branch of a nation's armed forces that is responsible for coastal defense and protection of life and property at sea.

    conflict Noun

    a disagreement or fight, usually over ideas or procedures.

    engineer Noun

    person who plans the building of things, such as structures (construction engineer) or substances (chemical engineer).

    exclusive economic zone (EEZ) Noun

    zone extending 200 nautical miles off a country's coast. A country has the right to explore and exploit the living and nonliving things in its EEZ.

    expand Verb

    to grow or get larger.

    extend Verb

    to enlarge or continue.

    fatality Noun

    a death.

    fish Verb

    to catch or harvest fish.

    fishery Noun

    industry or occupation of harvesting fish, either in the wild or through aquaculture.

    incident Noun

    event or happening.

    lucrative Adjective

    profitable or money-making.

    maintain Verb

    to continue, keep up, or support.

    military Noun

    armed forces.

    perimeter Noun

    outline or border.

    recognize Verb

    to identify or acknowledge.

    routinely Adverb

    regularly or scheduled.

    territorial Adjective

    very protective of a specific area, especially defending it against intruders.

    traditional Adjective

    historic or established by custom.

    trawl Verb

    to fish by dragging a large net along the bottom of the body of water.

    vessel Noun

    craft for traveling on water, usually larger than a rowboat or skiff.

    violence Noun

    acts that cause physical harm to another person.

    warship Noun

    seagoing vessel built for armed conflict.