Interesting Things I Come Across
Edition 042
Read time: 2 min 
British fish problems
This week, two anecdotes on Britain's problems with fish. 

Brexit's impact on fish and chips
Consider two simple points, largely paraphrased from this Twitter thread

1. Fish and chipperies traditionally use cod and haddock, but British fishers don't catch very much of it: instead, Britain imports 95 percent of its cod and more than 50 percent of its haddock, mostly from Europe.  

2. Meanwhile, British fishers are busy catching mackerel and herring, 81 and 93 percent of which is exported to Europe, because Brits don't tend to eat it.

Perhaps you see where this is going. The current Brexit agreement effectively postpones re-negotiation of fishing rules, but if no agreement is reached by July 2020, fish and chips are likely to become more expensive if E.U. tariffs are applied to cod and haddock. (British mackerel and herring exporters will also be less competitive). If you're interested in more details, here's an article from the Guardian

Brexit is not the only failure of British fisheries
Between 1958 and 1976, Britain lost three wars to Iceland, all over fish. (The pedants at the Wikipedia Cod Wars page suggest 'militarised interstate dispute' is a more accurate term than 'war'.) Essentially, each 'war' involved a similar series of events: Iceland would expand their exclusive economic zone and tell British fishing boats to bugger off. British and European governments would protest, and the British navy would go in to protect British boats fishing in contested areas. British and Icelandic navy boats entered many stand-offs, and occasionally rammed each other — in the Second Cod War, one person died in a collision. Eventually, Iceland would threaten to pull out of NATO and revoke access to a submarine channel, to which the British, tail between legs, would admit that fishing rights weren't all that important anyway. This happened three times, lasting anywhere from a few months to a few years. 

It's a good story of David beating Goliath, and has some other interesting political angles: the British navy were facing funding cuts, and really looking for fights to prove their worth — this contributed to the escalation of certain events. The issue was of existential political importance for Icelandic Prime Ministers, In contrast, most British voters didn't care enough to pressure their politicians over fish, and the U.S. also applied political pressure to the Brits to maintain Iceland as an ally and strategic defence outpost at the height of the Cold War. 
About Interesting Things I Come Across 
Interesting Things I Come Across is a weekly, self-explanatory newsletter. My goal is to share thoughtful ideas with clever people in no more than 500 words. Replies are encouraged and corrections are welcomed. I don't necessarily endorse the Things I write about, unless explicitly stated.

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