21 Sep: ‘The Cod War’ Heats Up

‘The Fish Feud!’ – as the tabloids originally termed the standoff between Britain and Iceland over fishing rights – had escalated into a fully-fledged ‘Cod War’ by 21st September, 1958, when the destroyer H.M.S. Diana requested medical assistance for a Marine suffering appendicitis.

The dispute arose when Iceland had unilaterally extended its fishing zone from 4 to 12 nautical miles. For centuries prior to this, boundaries were calculated via the ‘canon shot rule’ – i.e. the distance a canon could be fired from the shore.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain why Iceland was having a jingoistic moment; reveal how the Soviets intervened to disrupt Britain’s defense strategy; and explain how the humble battered sausage came to the rescue for the UK’s chip shops…

Further Reading:

• ‘Iceland v Britain: the cod wars begin’ (The Guardian, 1958): 


• ‘How Iceland Beat the British in the Four Cod Wars’ (Atlas Obscura, 2018): https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/what-were-cod-wars

• ‘Storyville: Cod Wars’ (BBC, 2002):