Cod Wars


I thought I’d called this message ‘cod wars’, as the two separate topics I want to discuss can be classified as such. I want to chat about two cod wars today. The first was the actual 1970 Cod Wars in Iceland. In Icelandic they were called Þorskastríðin, "the cod war", or Landhelgisstríðin, "the war for the territorial waters" and were a series of confrontations between the United Kingdom and Iceland regarding fishing rights in the North Atlantic. To give you some history, After World War II, Iceland gradually extended its exclusive fishing zone from 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) in 1950 to 200 miles (370 km) in 1975. This extension provoked strong protests from the United Kingdom and West Germany, and the British navy was repeatedly sent to the Icelandic fishing grounds to protect British trawlers. It came to an end in 1976 when Britain recognized the 200-mile limit.

The victory in the Cod Wars was accompanied by some disappointment as the fish stocks around Iceland began to be depleted. Severe restrictions on Iceland’s own fishing within its zone were inevitable. This then led to Icelandic fishing firms deep-sea fishing in remote grounds, which further led to disputes with other fishing nations—particularly with Norway and Russia over fishing in the Barents Sea. This grew more antagonistic through 2012 regarding the region’s mackerel stock, which possibly due to climate change were migrating inside Iceland’s national fisheries zone and thus increased Iceland’s share of the total catch. Norway and the EU then argued that Iceland should reduce its catch to preserve the sustainability of the stock. So even in this story, and as early as 1970, we can see the effects of global warming, overfishing and national interests at the fore. But little effort to change the status quo. 40 years on, what has changed?

That was possibly a tad serious, but I have been talking over the last few weeks as regards apathy and ‘losing the battle’. It’s not looking good is it? The fight over the simple belief that there is global warming and then the continued greed and self-interests of people, nations. Is it ignorance?? I think so. But we need to make an effort to be educated.

I was in China a few weeks ago with one of our airline clients and I was reminded of the ignorance when it comes to fish and the second ‘cod war’ came to the fore. My clients wanted a quality cod and gave me a price point to work with. The price point meant that they could really only afford Pacific cod, possibly Atlantic cod. But when they tried all the samples, of course they preferred black, or Sable fish. ‘But we want the best cod’. “well you can have it if you pay for it. You can’t have black cod for a Pacific cod price’. In this case, some of the problem probably stems from the fact that in Chinese all cod is called ‘Bak suk you’. There appears to be no difference in the description of different cod products.

To just elaborate a little. Atlantic cod ( Gadus morhua ) is fished in Northern European waters. It is a larger fish, has lovely firm textured meat and a medium oil content. Pacific Cod ( Gadus macrocephalus) is caught in the northern pacific ocean, Alaskan or Canadian waters. It is a smaller fish, less textured meat, less oil and with a higher water content. When you cook it, you’ll see the water loss. Black cod, or sable fish is caught in the same waters as the Pacific cod, but deep waters. It is larger, has a much higher oil content and can only be caught in certain times of the year. It is a premium product probably second only to Chilean seabass.

As a starter then. When you are buying cod. Ask which cod. Don’t just buy cod fish or worse, white fish. What does the latter mean anyway? That is nonsense. There is a difference in their purchasing cost so at least ensure that you are getting what you bought and value for money. Make sure the product is labeled and if not ASK. Secondly, make sure that the product is labled with an accreditation, MSC being the major one in our next of the woods. Just making a simple informed decision on purchasing, pushing the supermarkets to purchase quality and correctly labled products could be a huge initial step. If they don’t take action, purchase from someone who will.




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