In this article, we use game theory to understand the emergence of various kinds of territorial arrangements in the Maine lobster fishery during the past century. Using the Nash equilibria of models of the fishery as our theoretical framework, we show that informal territorial arrangements in this fishery went through three sequential stages. These stages are the result of decisions by groups of lobster fishermen to defend fishing areas or invade those of other groups. Alarge number of factors influence these defensive and offensive strategies: concentrations of lobsters, the adoption of better technology, transportation costs, ecological changes, trap monitoring costs, the ability to organize defensive and offensive groups, and better law enforcement—all of which are captured by crucial parameters of our model.We argue that this technique can be applied to elucidate territorial changes more generally.
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