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Officials Ask for Community Support in Fishing Dispute Investigation 

Law enforcement officials say say tension and turf wars between lobstermen in Penobscot Bay have reached new heights this year. In a matter of weeks, in separate disputes, there was a shooting off Matinicus Island and boat sinkings in Owls Head harbor.Major John Fetterman with Maine Marine Patrol says the number of complaints related to fishing disputes was already running high this summer, before the recent violence and criminal acts.”They’ve escalated to a crescendo here of course. But in other parts of the state we’re taking in complaints daily of trap cutting, fishery disputes, from Kittery to Eastport. This isn’t solely a Knox County problem. This is a statewide problem,” Fetterman says.Officials say while they can’t pinpoint the trigger this year, ongoing territory issues, personal feuds and the poor economy could all be factors.”This summer has been very unique and we’ve all been coming together. And basically we’re working together every day on this matter,” says Knox County Chief Deputy Ernest McIntosh.Friday the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, Maine Marine Patrol, State Police and the Coast Guard asked for help with their current investigations into the boat sabotage in Owls Head.”Even though we’ve had tremendous support from the community – they have assisted us greatly in our investigations – we’re putting out an appeal. We need even more community involvement and community information and ownership by the community,” Fetterman says.They say such information is vital since their investigations, already complicated, are made more difficult when people’s livelihoods are involved. And since speaking up in a tight-knit community can be hard. But officials say it’s a matter of public safety.”I want to ensure people that in their cooperation with law enforcement, we will take every effort to protect them and their confidentiality in sharing any information that might assist in our investigation,” Fetterman says.Still no arrests have been made in connection with the sabotage of three boats in Owl’s Head Harbor earlier this week.They urge anyone who can provide information to call the Knox County Sheriff’s Office at 975-1711.