Individual transferable quotas (ITQs) are primarily tools to achieve economic efficiency and do not amount to ownership of fish stocks. The 200 mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) went a long way to establish national jurisdiction over fish stocks, and without this ITQs would not have been possible. Shortly after the EEZs were established, Norway and the neighboring countries agreed on the sharing of fish stocks in the EEZ. The road to ITQs in Norway has, however, been long and winding. The paper discusses the obstacles to ITQs in general and how they have played out in Norway in particular. Despite not being conservation tools, individual vessel quotas have been considered helpful in enforcing overall catch limits. The driving forces behind transferability are partly the capital gains quota holders can make, and partly the fleet rationalization that transferability generates. Main obstacles are controversies over initial allocation and ideological opposition against privatization and reliance on market forces.


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