In the 1970s Britain and Iceland came close to a shooting war in the so called Cod War.

Using these stats (admittedly from some decades later) as a guide, Norway, Denmark and Spain also have significant fishing fleets. What was their attitude towards the dispute?

Incidentally Wikipedia's Cod Wars article lists West Germany as a "belligerent" on Britain's side but says nothing detailed about West Germany's involvement.

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    its suprising how influential fishing disputes have been in world history. For example, I discovered that the Newfoundland fishery rights for the various beligerants were one of the big issues slowing down the Treaty of Paris ending the American Revolutionary War.
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 7, 2013 at 21:59
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    Fishing is obviously an evil trade participated in by war-mongering sea misers :P
    – Luke_0
    Aug 8, 2013 at 0:20
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    West Germany continued fishing alongside the UK during the Cod War but didn't deploy any warships. I do know that Belgium made a separate deal with Iceland in 1972 and thus broke rank with the rest of the EU. Greenland and the Faroe Islands supported Iceland but as for the rest of western Europe I would think it likely that they supported the UK, simply because many of them were fishing alongside them in the debated waters.
    – Karlth
    Aug 8, 2013 at 1:03
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    @T.E.D. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… most bizarre war ever (which has been linked elsewhere to fishing rights), possibly. Both sides forgetting there was a war on for over 3 centuries :)
    – jwenting
    Aug 8, 2013 at 5:45
  • @T.E.D probably because in the case of Newfoundland and Iceland fishing accounts for the majority of their respective economies.
    – Karlth
    Aug 8, 2013 at 10:16

1 Answer 1


This is a part answer to your question

According to the website The Cod Wars (Britains-smallwars.com),there were actually 3 Cod wars, involving some shots being fired and in particular, ramming of boats - one nasty one in particular prompted some response from various groups around the world, according to the website:

  • The Nordic Union came out in support of Iceland (There is a precedent that may be a reason why, that in the 1930's, Britain took Norway to the international Court of Justice which ruled in Norway's favour according to The National Archives 'Cod Wars' page)
  • With the threat of shutting down a key NATO station, which according to the website, NATO and the US took a mediation role - where NATO as a whole stopped the conflict.

According to the article "”There’s Something Wrong With Our Bloody Fish Today” Wargaming the “Cod Wars”" (Manley), West Germany (and other fishing fleets frequenting the area - from the Faroe Islands and Belgium), where the 3rd Cod War,

the Royal Navy fought to defend the interests of fishermen from several European nations as well as those of Britain.

But these articles do not mention any particular action or response from Spain, nor do any suggest direct involvement of other naval fleets, other than the fishing vessels from those listed above being harrassed by Icelandic Coast Guard ships (until they made their governments made agreements with Iceland).

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