The Cod Wars were a series of 20th-century confrontations between the United Kingdom (with aid from West Germany) and Iceland about fishing rights in the North Atlantic. Each of the disputes ended with an Icelandic victory.

Fishing boats from Britain were sailing to waters near Iceland in search of their catch in the 14th century. Agreements struck during the 15th century started a centuries-long series of intermittent disputes between the two countries. Demand for seafood and consequent competition for fish stocks grew rapidly in the 19th century. In 1951, citing as precedent a decision by the International Court of Justice, Iceland expanded its territorial waters to 4 nautical miles (7 kilometres). In 1958, after a United Nations conference at which several countries sought to extend the limits of their territorial waters to 12 nmi (22 km) at which no agreement was reached, Iceland unilaterally expanded its territorial waters to this limit and banned foreign fleets from fishing in these waters. Britain refused to accept this decision. This led to a modern series of confrontations with the United Kingdom and other western European countries that took place in three stages over 20 years: 1958ā€“61, 1972ā€“73 and 1975ā€“76.

The term "cod war" was coined by a British journalist in early September 1958.

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