While several prominent studies link the use of individual transferable quotas (ITQs) to sustainable fishing, it remains unclear which attributes of this system (i.e., individual, transferable, or quota), or any other system, lead to sustainable outcomes. To test for a linkage between management systems and sustainable fishing, we systematically classified how fishing opportunities are allocated for 443 fish stocks from 1990 to 2018 to produce the largest database of its kind. Using mixed-effects models and a difference-in-differences approach, we tested the occurrence of system attributes against two metrics of sustainable fishing: mortality (i.e., overfishing) and biomass (i.e., overfished). Our results reveal that quota limits and individual allocation reduce the probability of overfishing, but offer no evidence supporting the transferability of fishing opportunities or the length of time they are held for. These results highlight the importance of considering specific attributes in the design of fisheries management systems.