State fish and wildlife regulators will open the commercial Dungeness crab fishing season statewide two days before Christmas, giving people a chance to have crabs on tables before the holiday season ends.
Saturday's announcement of the statewide opener ends delays that were put in place amid poor meat quality in northern areas and the potential for whale entanglement in coastal regions.
Officials say the Dec. 23 opener also gives anglers plenty of time for planning and to get their gear ready to have an orderly start to the fishery.
Regulators say data indicates most whales have started their annual migration out of the fishing grounds and the risk for entanglement is low.
Crabbers, however, are encouraged to avoid areas where whales are congregating, including around the canyon edges of Monterey, and between the Farallon Islands and Point Reyes.