State regulators have delayed the opening of northern California’s commercial Dungeness crab season due to poor crab meat quality.

The commercial crab season for Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties is set back until at least Dec. 16, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said Friday. The season had been scheduled to open Dec. 1.

The commercial Dungeness crab season for the rest of coastal California, from the Mendocino-Sonoma county line to the Mexican border, remains interrupted to avoid entangling humpback whales in lines and traps, the agency said.

The department said it will re-evaluate the commercial delay on or around Dec. 7.

In addition, recreational crabbing from the California-Oregon state line to Cape Mendocino will be restricted beginning Nov. 26 due to the presence of humpback whales.

Crabbers in that area will have to remove all traps by the time the restriction goes into effect, the agency said. 

The state allows recreational crabbers to operate from Cape Mendocino to the Mendocino-Sonoma line and from Lopez Point to Point Conception.

Advocates for a change in crabbing methods say new technology could avoided future delays.

“Pop-up traps protect marine life by getting static lines out of the water and let fishers harvest crab as soon as it’s in season,” said Ben Grundy of the Center for Biological Diversity. “We just need California to approve this gear and help fund the transition.”