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Iceland and Britain – Cod War. Kok Yufeng (6) Lowe Xinhui (11) 4N. Geopolitical Background: Iceland. location: northern Europe, northwest of UK geographic coordinates: 65 00 N, 18 00 W area: total: 103,000 sq km land: 100,250 sq km water: 2,750 sq km no land boundaries

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Iceland and Britain – Cod War


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    1. Iceland and Britain – Cod War Kok Yufeng (6) Lowe Xinhui (11) 4N

    2. Geopolitical Background: Iceland • location: northern Europe, northwest of UK • geographic coordinates: 65 00 N, 18 00 W • area: • total: 103,000 sq km • land: 100,250 sq km • water: 2,750 sq km • no land boundaries • coastline: 4970km • maritime claims: • territorial sea: 12 nm • exclusive economic zone: 200 nm • continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

    3. Geopolitical Background: Iceland • government type: constitutional republic • capital: Reykjavik • legal system: civil law system based on Danish law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction • Part of NATO

    4. Geopolitical Background: Iceland • capitalistic economy. low unemployment, even distribution of income. • economy depends heavily on the fishing industry • provides 70% of export earnings • employs 8% of the work force. • sensitive to declining fish stocks and fluctuating prices for fish and fish products, aluminum, and ferrosilicon. • economy diversifying into manufacturing and service industries. • software production, biotech, and financial services • tourism sector expanding • increase in ecotourism and whale watching. • GDP (PPP): $10.26 billion (2005 est)

    5. Geopolitical Background: Britain • the dominant industrial and maritime power of the 19th century • As one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, a founding member of NATO, and of the Commonwealth, the UK pursues a global approach to foreign policy • A member of the EU, it chose to remain outside the Economic and Monetary Union for the time being.

    6. Geopolitical Background: Britain • location: western Europe, northwest of France • geographic coordinates: 54 00 N, 2 00 W • area (includes Rockall and Shetland Islands): • total: 244,820 sq km • land: 241,590 sq km • water: 3,230 sq km • land boundaries: • total: 360 km border countries: Ireland 360 km • coastline: 12429km • maritime claims: • territorial sea: 12 nm • exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm • continental shelf: as defined in continental shelf orders or in accordance with agreed upon boundaries

    7. Geopolitical Background: Britain • government type: constitutional monarchy • capital: London • constitution: unwritten; partly statutes, partly common law and practice • legal system: • has nonbinding judicial review of Acts of Parliament under the Human Rights Act of 1998 • accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

    8. Geopolitical Background: Britain • leading trading power and financial center • greatly reduced public ownership • Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanized • producing about 60% of food needs with less than 2% of the labor force. • large coal, natural gas, and oil reserves accounts for 10% of GDP • Services account for the largest proportion of GDP • economy is one of the strongest in Europe • inflation, interest rates, unemployment remain low. • improvement of education, transport, and health services, at a cost in higher taxes • GDP (PPP): $1.867 trillion (2005 est.)

    9. Summary of conflict • The conflict between Britain and Iceland (more popularly the “Cod War”) was a series of confrontations • The main issue was Iceland’s constant extension of its fishing zone • There were two other “wars” of smaller scale one in 1958 and the other in 1972 • The first Cod War was when Britain was unable to prevent Iceland from extending its fishing limits from 4 nautical miles to 12 nautical miles (19 km) off Iceland's coast

    10. Summary of conflict • The second one was in 1972,when Iceland decided to extend its fishing zone from 12 nautical miles to 50 nautical miles. • The conflict ended up with an agreement between Iceland and Britain, in which British fishers were only allowed in certain areas of the 50 mile zone and that their annual catch to be no more than 130,000 tons. It expired November 1975

    11. Summary of conflict • concerned that the cod might follow the pattern of the Icelandic herring, which during the 1960s almost disappeared. This decline could have been prevented by adequate conservation methods. This prompted conservation efforts by Iceland. • Thus after having unilaterally extended its fishing zone, Iceland then announced plans to reduce over-fishing. • However, her claims were largely ignored even though it was brought up to the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea.

    12. Summary of conflict • In October 1975, with most of its suggestions ignored and with marine biologists predicting that if these efforts were ignored there would have been no cod left by 1980, Iceland decided to extend its 50 nautical mile zone to 200 nautical miles. • This meant that only Icelandic fishermen could fish in the 200 mile designated area • A number of countries such as Belgium, France and Norway, actually complied. • Britain ignored it and continued to intrude.

    13. Summary of conflict • In November 1975, the two countries had a serious disagreement over this new fishing zone and a confrontation took place. • Iceland deployed 8 ships, six Coast Guard vessels and two Polish-built stern trawlers converted into Coast Guard ships to enforce her control over fishing rights by forcing British trawlers to stop fishing. • Britain deployed a total of twenty-two frigates (although no more than six to nine frigates at one time), seven supply ships, nine tug-boats and three auxiliary ships to protect its 40 fishing trawlers

    14. Summary of conflict • When Iceland's Cost Guards acted to enforce Iceland’s regulations, there were collisions between the ships from both countries • Not many shots were fired throughout the seven month conflict, but several ships were rammed on both sides, causing damage to the vessels and a few injuries to the crews. Both sides blamed each other, leading to more hostility. • The “war” also consisted of British fishing trawlers having their nets cut by Icelandic coast guard

    15. Summary of conflict • Iceland had even threatened closure of the NATO base at Keflavik, which would, in the military perception of the time, have severely impaired NATO's ability to defend the Atlantic Ocean from Soviet threat. • This brought United States into the conflict as it threatened their defense against Communism. • Iceland also broke of diplomatic ties with Britain.

    16. Summary of conflict • While the United States offered to mediate between the two parties, it was through NATO intercession, the conflict was finally resolved in June 2 1976. • An agreement was signed in which Britain was only allowed 24 trawlers inside Iceland's fishing zone at any one time. They also had a limited of fish they could catch • Iceland’s patrol vessels could stop to inspect British trawlers. • There were four areas that were completely closed to British fishing. • Thus lasted for 6 months, after which Britain had no right to fish in Iceland’s fishing zone.

    17. Causes of conflict • The Icelandic position was similar in all three conflicts • The major point was that Iceland depends on its fishing industry more than any other state in the world • Iceland has few natural resources, no timber, no fuel, little agricultural potential, and no mineral deposits • economy is uniquely dependent on fishing for survival and for exports (79%), to fund the imports needed for the other parts of the economy • Iceland argued, therefore, that it had an overwhelming need to ensure the survival of the fish stocks in its area.

    18. Causes of conflict • Furthermore, during the 1970s fish stocks around Iceland decreased by a third. • This was because many neighbouring countries especially Britain were over-fishing around Iceland and Iceland needed to protect the cod. • At the first meeting of substance on the Law of the Sea, from July to August of 1974, more than 100 States supported the right of coastal States to establish an Exclusive Economic Zone of up to 200 nautical miles from baselines. This included Great Britain. Iceland stated that it was merely enforcing what would soon be an international law and that it was following precedents set by other nations.

    19. Causes of conflict • Had Iceland’s suggestions for the reduction of over-fishing been taken into account, this conflict could have been avoided. • Another cause was Great Britain’s reluctance in recognizing Iceland's authority in extending its fishing zone and so continued fishing inside the disputed area (perhaps because of its maritime authority) • Also, the British fishing industry was making substantial revenue (23.1 million pounds (approx. equal to $51 million) worth of catch), making Britain more reluctant to comply to Iceland’s new regulation.

    20. Effects: Short Term • With the agreement in 1976, British fisheries were greatly affected even though there was still some leeway given to them. • The economies of many North England fisheries were affected and the industry declined rapidly. • 1,500 British fishermen became unemployed and another 7, 500 people on shore were briefly unemployed • Importing cod from Iceland caused cod prices to rise slightly in Great Britain, by about 6 or 7 pence a pound.

    21. Effects: Long Term • If the conflict had not happened, the over-fishing by the British and other neighbouring countries would have sped up the extinction of cod from Icelandic waters. • In other words, the conflict actually helped to alleviate the regional extinction of cod.

    22. Bibliography • www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ic.html • www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/uk.html • http://www.american.edu/TED/icefish.htm • http://www.britains-smallwars.com/RRGP/CodWar.htm