In many ways, the Netherlands set the pace for European economic growth in the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries. The Dutch herring fishing industry was critical to this modern economic progress. A comparative study of this enterprise to the lean manufacturing tool of constraints management provides insight into how the Dutch dominated this lucrative industry. Improvements by Dutch fishing interests in technology, practice, procedures and quality control were consistent with the constraints management model. English and Scottish competitors failed to identify these constraints and thus, failed to challenge Dutch operators. The Dutch fishing industry practiced and understood constraints management and used it to monopolize the export herring market for three centuries.