The cold war and britain’s dispute with the USSR over territorial waters and fishery limits, 1953-1956

Uri Bar-Noi

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2 Scopus citations


This study closely examines the behaviour and actions of the British government during the dispute on territorial waters and fishery rights with the USSR, 1953-6. It demonstrates that as long as Joseph Stalin was still alive and the tension between East and West remained strong, the British had little desire to enter into bilateral negotiations with the Russians leading towards a long-standing settlement of this quarrel. Fearful that the Soviet government might use this dispute as leverage on their government to force it to make substantive concessions on trade issues, they successively managed to secure two annual extensions of the old bilateral fisheries accord of 1929. As the Cold War had reached a respite by 1955, decision-making on the British side was mainly governed by economic interests, by the requirements of the British fishing industry, and by the need to block the inroads to Britain’s favourable three-mile limit, which threatened to prejudice its claim to free navigation on the high seas. In 1956, a new Anglo-Soviet fisheries agreement was accomplished, following British acquiescence to Moscow’s protracted claim to a 12-mile limit of territorial waters. In return, British fishermen were granted permission to fish up to three miles off the Soviet coast, in a few designated areas only.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA002
Pages (from-to)195-210
Number of pages16
JournalJournal for Maritime Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 25 Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The National Maritime Museum.


  • Anglo-Soviet temporary fisheries agreement
  • Barents Sea
  • Cod wars
  • Cold War
  • North Russia
  • Three-mile limit
  • Trawlers
  • UK
  • USSR
  • White Sea


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