Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 243–264

Property Rights in Fisheries: Iceland’s Experience with ITQs

Special Segment: Rights Based Fisheries

DOI: 10.1007/s11160-005-5139-6

Cite this article as:
Arnason, R. Rev Fish Biol Fisheries (2005) 15: 243. doi:10.1007/s11160-005-5139-6


The fundamental problem of economic inefficiency in fisheries, the so-called common property problem, may be seen to be caused by inadequate or lacking property rights in the underlying natural resources. The introduction of Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs) into fisheries represents an attempt to correct this failure. ITQs, however, are not property rights in the relevant natural resources, i.e. the fish stocks and their habitat. They are merely harvesting rights and thus far from ideal as property rights. Nevertheless, ITQs have been introduced in numerous fisheries around the world, apparently with generally, even consistently, good economic results. This paper outlines the basic theory of property rights and the strengths and weaknesses of ITQs as property rights in fisheries. The paper goes on to discuss the Icelandic ITQ system and compares its property rights value with that of the New Zealand ITQ system and the Norwegian IQ system. Finally, the paper reviews some measures of the economic outcomes of the ITQ system in Iceland.


economic efficiency fisheries management Icelandic ITQs property rights property rights in fisheries 

JEL Classifications

D20 D60 Q22 

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of IcelandReykjavikIceland

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