Natural resource planning: A case study of the cod in the Icelandic fisheries management system

Einar Svansson, Vífill Karlsson, Ögmundur Knútsson, Hjalti Jóhannesson, Stefán Kalmansson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter focuses on fisheries systems where the Icelandic cod is used as a case study in sustainable planning. In Iceland, the economy is dependent in fisheries. The export value of seafood products is a large part of all exported goods, and economically cod is the most valuable species. The Fisheries Management System (FMS) is based on annual decisions of Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for each species and a distribution of individual transferable quotas (ITQ) to the larger vessels. Coastal and community quotas are used to counteract the negative impact of the ITQ system. The chapter is based on a theoretical overview and quantitative data with descriptive statistics. It shows the evolution of the management system for cod in Iceland from 1984-2015. The main conclusions is that the Icelandic system has been beneficial and decreased uncertainty, therefore increasing productivity levels and value creation. The outcome is, however, influenced by rapid technological progress and an increasingly efficient market driven industry. The TAC system in Iceland has encouraged the fishing industry to use an important renewable resource in a more responsible manner and helped maintain a more sustainable ecosystem. Nevertheless, there are some negative impacts. The concentration of quotas to larger companies and access of new participants to the fishery sector is constrained by high barriers of investment cost. Such a system can impose negative social and cultural influences on small rural societies. The spatial impact is clearly visible, as concentration of fishing rights and production is gravitating towards a few big fishing harbors. The area around the capital and the international airport is gaining its share of total landings based on fresh fish exports. This has created a strong political pressure on the fisheries industry to pay back a larger part of the resource rent to society. How this will be done is still controversial, and remains unsolved by the political sector.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMarine spatial planning
Subtitle of host publicationMethodologies, environmental issues and current trends
EditorsDimitra Kitsiou, Michael Karydis
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781536121834
ISBN (Print)9781536121834, 9781536121704
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Other keywords

  • Fisheries
  • Cod
  • Total allowable catch
  • Economic analysis

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