1. A fast fish belongs to the party fast to it. (nearest to it)
2. A loose fish is fair game for anybody who can soonest catch it.
"...these two laws touching Fast Fish and Loose-Fish will.on reflection be found in the fundamentals of all human jurisprudence . . . what are the Rights of Man and the Liberties of the World but Loose-Fish? What are all men's minds and opinions but Loose-Fish? What is the great globe itself but a Loose-Fish? And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fish too?"
Moby DickHerman Melville
PUBLISHED EXCERPTS OF "THE LOOSE FISH CHRONICLES"