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We argue that to understand fishing in modern Iceland, it must be contexualized in terms of a system which includes three subsystems: (1) production–catching and processing, (2) distribution–selling processed fish internationally, (3) policy–establishing fishing areas, gear, periods, prices, quotas, and attempts to influence policy. We briefly outline the components of this system in contemporary Iceland. We conclude that if comparative studies of fishing are to be useful, they must go beyond comparisons of fishing boats to comparisons of fishing systems.