Allocation of Fishing Harvest Rights in Iceland and Norway - the Development since 1990


  • Helgi Grétarsson



Fisheries management, allocation of harvest rights, comparative law, property rights and equality before the law.


Unlike most western countries, marine fisheries in Iceland and Norway is still of some national significance. For more than two decades now, the two countries have managed their fisheries with complicated quota systems. The main rules of these two systems are explained in the article. However, the main purpose of the article is to describe how harvest rights in the two countries have been allocated since 1990. In both countries the principle of grandfathering the harvest rights has prevailed, i.e., the initial allocation has protected the professional interest of those that have already participated in the fisheries. Despite this, rules on the matter have not been engraved in stone since they have been dynamic and contingent on various amendments by the legislature and government. Basic rules on allocation have been stipulated in acts in Iceland, while in Norway they have mostly been based on regulations. Since harvest rights are transferable in Iceland, this, in principle, should make the harvest rights better protected than in Norway. However, when the matter is scrutinized, it becomes clear that the Icelandic parliament has in fact reallocated harvest rights on a recurrent basis. In Norway, rules on allocation of harvest rights have been relatively stable. This can be partly explained by the fact that the most important stakeholders in the Norwegian fisheries have in practice had important say on how the harvest rights have been allocated.

Author Biography

Helgi Grétarsson

Law Institute of the University of Iceland.




How to Cite

Grétarsson, H. (2011). Allocation of Fishing Harvest Rights in Iceland and Norway - the Development since 1990 . Icelandic Review of Politics & Administration, 7(2), 267–288.



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