The research for this paper was triggered by a stunning judgement of the Icelandic Supreme Court in December 1998, which declared as unconstitutional existing fisheries laws on individual transferable quotas (ITQs), because they privileged those who derived their fishing rights from ownership of vessels during a specific period over which their "fishing history" was established (Pálsson 1999, Copes 1999a, Gudmundsdóttir 1999). In Iceland, as elsewhere, it has been the practice to start up ITQ systems by giving away quotas for free to individuals or companies owning licensed fishing vessels at the time an ITQ regime is introduced. The amount of quota allocated to recipients is usually calculated in relation to their recent catch history. The Court decided that this privileged allocation violates both the constitutional provision against discrimination and the provision concerning the "right to work". This set the stage for intensified legal and political discussions in Iceland about ITQs. There are potential implications for the constitutionality or legality of similar systems elsewhere. The ruling is interesting, in its own right, to legal scholars, anthropologists, political scientists, and investigators concerned with common property regimes and public-trust doctrines. In our paper we explore emerging constitutional and political challenges to ITQ systems in Iceland, Canada and South America.
Copes, P. and G. Palsson. Challenging ITQs: Legal and Political Action in Iceland, Canada and Latin America. In: Microbehavior and Macroresults: Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade, July 10-14, 2000, Corvallis, Oregon, USA. Compiled by Richard S. Johnston and Ann L. Shriver. International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET), Corvallis, 2001.