||Our analysis of the Icelandic cod
fishery, focusing on changes in the actual distribution of fishing
quotas, indicates a growing inequality. Fishing rights have been
increasingly concentrated in the hands of the biggest companies.
With ITQs becoming fully divisible and independently transferable,
their concentration has escalated. In 1994, only twenty six companies
(the 'giants') owned about half of the national ITQs in the demersal
fisheries. Distributional analysis seems to indicate that the increased
concentration of ITQs in the hands of larger companies is intrinsic
to the ITQ system; the rate of concentration and distributional
inequality increases as a result of restrictions being lifted on
permanent transactions with ITQs. However, while the ITQ system
supplies the framework for such change certain 'externalities' to
the system have also played an important role.
||The current scholarly emphasis on
privatization is sometimes challenged on practical grounds. Some
'commons' regimes function rather well and, conversely, some privatized
regimes are obvious failures (2).
In some African pastoralist economies, for example, the thesis about
the tragedy of the commons has been used by governments and companies
when pressing for privatization of communal grazing areas and, in
the process, earlier mechanisms for regulating access have sometimes
been eliminated, with serious ecological consequences. Environmental
degradation was not the consequence of the absence of property rights,
but rather the result of the imposition of a privatized regime.
There is some evidence for an erosion of responsibility in fisheries
as a result of ITQ management. Discarding of small and immature
fish during fishing operations and the 'high-grading' of the catch
(the dumping of species of relatively low economic value) seem to
be major problems in many fisheries, including the Icelandic one.
In addition, privatization sometimes causes severe social inequalities
and ethical problems, which escalate the problem of irresponsible
resource-use. As we have shown, in Iceland public discontent with
the privatization and concentration of ITQs, and the social and
political repercussions thereof, is increasingly articulated in
terms of heavily loaded metaphors of 'profiteering', 'tenancy',
'quota kings' and 'the lords of the sea'. While the distribution
of ITQs and its moral evaluation by the people involved represent
an important field of research, such concerns tend to be ignored
in scholarly discourse on resource management (30).
Before instituting programs of privatization and quota allocation,
managers should be careful to examine the particularities of history
and culture and the likely social and ecological consequences of