PORTLAND — Maine officials have launched a new program that is aiming to reopen some of the tens of thousands of acres of clam flats that are closed to harvesting because of poor water quality.

The Department of Marine Resources’ shellfish growing area team is taking a close look at flats that have been closed because of high bacterial levels. By working with town officials and focusing on specific areas, the team hopes to open some of them back up to harvesting and make them productive for clam and mussel harvesters.

Clam digger Chad Coffin of Freeport calls the new unit a “shellfish SWAT team.” He says the effort will go a long way toward helping Maine’s clam industry and its nearly 1,800 licensed diggers.