KITTERY, Maine — An unusual problem has surfaced, quite literally, at Pepperrell Cove recently, according to town officials, as ink from squirting squid caught by fishermen has sprayed the ground, pier, floats and dinghies.
According to Kittery Port Authority chairman Bob Melanson, fishermen come in the overnight hours to fish for the squid, using a light to attract them.
“It’s so much easier to catch squid with headlamps and attract them to the water’s edge,” Melanson said.
According to published reports, longfin squid have typically been seen from Cape Cod south in New England, but that has changed in recent years. Fishermen have reported seeing them in Maine waters beginning in 2012.
The squid come inshore during the summer months and go offshore starting in the fall.
Melanson said the squirting squid “are there in abundance” in Pepperrell Cove these days. As the squid come up out of the water, he said, they “reflexively” start to release their ink as a protection measure.
“We received complaints from boat owners, and we have concerns because their ink has peppered the dinghies and the pier,” he said, adding that some fishermen have been crawling over dinghies they do not own to extract the squid from the water.
The ink, said Melanson, “leaves a grayish, murky stain” that will eventually be washed away from rain. “But it’s very unsightly.”
Some fishermen also have been gutting the squid on site and leaving the refuse behind, said Town Manager Nancy Colbert Puff.
At its July meeting, the port authority voted to put up a “no squid fishing” sign, a controversial measure in itself as it provoked concern from people who wondered if the board had the authority to ban the practice, said Colbert Puff.
She said people have complained that the port authority would need to change its rules and regulations in order to ban squid fishing, which would require a public hearing process that did not occur.
But Colbert Puff also understood the port authority’s concerns about potentially illegal trespass at Pepperrell Cove.
“We’re looking for a way to get at the activity that is noxious,” she said.
Police were notified to increase patrols in Pepperrell Cove during overnight hours.
“There have been complaints from noise, to littering to potential trespassing,” said Police Chief Theodor Short. “So we are looking to address the symptoms of the problem. Those are things we are focusing on.”