which tidal and submerged lands belonged to the Crown, with attendant public rights of navigation and fishing, and Gilbertese law, in which every stretch of reef and every coral head and shoal that was a feeding ground for fish was privately owned (Goodenough, 1963). A similar system characterized customary law in Chuuk (Truk) (Goodenough, 1951), as well as islands of Papua New Guinea (Carrier, 1987a,b), where even the right to use certain types of fishing technology for certain species of fish might be privately owned by individuals or family corporations such as lineages. However, colonial and postcolonial impositions of Western law, as well as profound political, economic, and cultural change, have weakened and destroyed many of these systems of sea tenure (Johannes, 1978; Cordell, 1989). Accordingly, the issues of open-access fisheries are widespread, although not universal.
In the United States, competition between those who claimed the freedom to fish and those who wanted the benefits of exclusive property rights in order to develop fisheries was particularly evident in the estuarine shellfisheries for oysters and clams. Similarly, exclusive use rights to fishing sites and species were held by clans, tribes, and family groups in the Pacific Northwest and Canada (e.g., McEvoy, 1986; Bay-Hansen, 1991; Newell, 1993). Higgs (1982) provides a thoughtful discussion of how the collapse of traditional (Native American) fishing rights on the Columbia River precipitated an economically wasteful race for fish in the mid-nineteenth century. By the end of the nineteenth century, the arguments had come closer to those of economists today: the dangers of open access or "public rights" and the need for some sort of privatization to provide incentives to people to take care of and invest in the future of shellfish resources (Brooks, 1891; McCay, 1998). Leaseholds or private property were created in many states for shellfish enhancement and aquaculture. Otherwise, government-based fisheries management proceeded in the directions of hatchery-based enhancement and regulation of fish harvesting through total allowable catches, closed seasons, gear limits, and other tools, while maintaining more or less open access (Nielsen, 1976).
Admonitions to recognize the role of economics in fisheries management reappeared in the early twentieth century (e.g., Warming, 1911; Graham, 1943) but were largely ignored until the 1960s and 1970s. Scheiber and Carr (1997) found the germ of the IFQ concept in a plan proposed for the State of Maryland to limit licenses in a fishery on the Chesapeake Bay during World War II. This region featured a long-standing concern about the problems of managing fisheries through gear restrictions, which meant managing for inefficiency, especially in the shellfisheries (Brooks, 1891; McHugh, 1972). The new proposal included ideas about "economic rent," basing rights on historical performance, and finding ways to retire excess vessels (Scheiber and Carr, 1997).
At the federal level, fisheries management was being based on the goals of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and taking an ecosystem approach to achieve