Information Sharing and Cooperative Search in Fisheries
We present a dynamic game of search and learning by fishermen who seek the true location of a partially observable fish stock. Bayesian Nash equilibrium search patterns for non-cooperating fishermen and members of an information sharing cooperative are compared with first-best outcomes. Independent fishermen do not internalize the full value of information and do not replicate first-best search. A fishing cooperative faces a free-riding problem as each member prefers another undertake costly search for information. Contractual agreements among coop members may mitigate, but not likely eliminate free-riding. Our results explain why information sharing is rare in fisheries and offer guidance for improving fishery management.