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Ensuring a Sustainable and Efficient Fishery in Iceland


  • Gunnar Haraldsson


  • David Carey



Iceland has managed its large fishing industry in a sustainable and profitable way. The foundations of this success are setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs) based on scientific recommendations of what is biologically sustainable and the Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) system, which gives each holder the right to catch a certain of the TAC in various species. The efficiency of this system could be under threat from potential policy responses to the perceived unfairness of quotas having initially been given away and by Iceland’s possible accession to the EU. However, there is nothing the government can do now to do undo the unfairness of the initial allocation. Nevertheless, it could be attractive to increase the special fisheries resource rent tax as it is likely to be a more efficient tax than most others, although the increase should not be so great as to damage the fisheries management system. The resource rent could also be increased by reducing TACs from the current, biologically sustainable level to the level that maximizes rent. Provided that Iceland is able to negotiate to maintain the authority to set TACs and to keep the ITQ system, joining the EU, and hence the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), should not reduce the efficiency of the Icelandic fisheries management system. This Working Paper related to the 2011 OECD Economic Survey of Iceland. ( Pour une pêche durable et efficiente en Islande L’Islande a géré son vaste secteur de la pêche de façon durable et rentable. Ce succès repose sur l’instauration de totaux admissibles de captures (TAC) fondés sur des recommandations scientifiques concernant la durabilité biologique, et sur le système des quotas individuels transférables (QIT) qui confère à chaque détenteur d’un quota le droit de pêcher une part du TAC défini pour chacune des espèces. L’efficience de ce système pourrait être menacée par des mesures publiques possibles en réponse au sentiment d’injustice lié à l’attribution initiale des quotas, et par l’adhésion éventuelle de l’Islande à l’UE. Toutefois, les autorités islandaises ne peuvent rien faire à présent pour remédier au caractère inéquitable de la distribution initiale. Néanmoins, il pourrait être intéressant d’augmenter la taxe spéciale sur la rente halieutique car elle devrait être plus efficiente que la plupart des autres taxes, à condition que cette augmentation ne soit pas trop forte pour ne pas porter atteinte au système de gestion des pêches. On pourrait aussi augmenter la rente halieutique en réduisant les TAC de façon à passer du niveau actuel qui est biologiquement durable à un niveau qui permette de maximiser la rente. Sous réserve que l’Islande soit en mesure de négocier pour conserver le pouvoir de fixer ses TAC et pour maintenir son système de QIT, l’adhésion à l’UE, et donc à la politique commune de la pêche (PCP), ne devrait pas réduire l’efficience du système islandais de gestion des pêches. Ce Document de travail se rapporte à l’Étude économique de l’OCDE de l’Islande 2011 (

Suggested Citation

  • Gunnar Haraldsson & David Carey, 2011. "Ensuring a Sustainable and Efficient Fishery in Iceland," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 891, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:891-en

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    More about this item


    adhésion à l’UE; EU accession; fisheries management; Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) system; rentes de ressources; resource rent tax; resource rents; Rights Based Management; régime de gestion fondé sur les droits; système de gestion de la pêche; système de quotas individuels transférables (QIT); taxe sur la rente des ressources; total admissible de captures (TAC); Total Allowable Catches (TACs);

    JEL classification:

    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q22 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Fishery
    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy

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