BRUNSWICK, Maine — Over the last several days, thousands of dead bait fish have washed up on the shores of Middle and Maquoit bays in Brunswick.

The pogies, a type of bait fish, appeared to have died after a single vessel which caught them was ill equipped to handle a large catch, not low oxygen content in the water or predation by a larger fish, according to the Brunswick Police Department.

Since then, the Brunswick Police Department’s Marine Resources and Harbor Management Division has received numerous complaints about dead fish being found on the shore.

“It’s stinky,” Dan Devereaux, Brunswick’s harbor master and marine resource officer, said Sunday, adding that he has received at least 50 complaints from people complaining about the smell of rotting fish. Pogies are particularly pungent because their flesh is so oily, he said.

Devereaux said that on Sunday, a group of recent high school graduate and college students collected 21 totes full of fish within about a 70-yard stretch of the five-mile span of affected coastline.

In an effort to rid the town of rotting pogies, the town is inviting the local fishing community to come collect the excess fish for use as crab and lobster bait.

Shellfishermen will conduct a coastal cleanup 10 a.m. Monday in Maquoit Bay and 10:30 a.m. at Middle Bay, to be followed by efforts by local youth to remove the dead, rotting fish from the shore.