The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced that the commercial Dungeness crab fishery will open starting next week from the Sonoma-Mendocino county line down to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The state agency postponed the opening of the crab season late last year because of high numbers of migrating humpback whales spotted off the California coast.

Commercial crab fishing south of Mendocino County will be allowed starting at 12:01 a.m. Jan. 18 under a 50 percent trap reduction, which is meant to reduce the risk of entanglements for humpback whales, according to CDFW officials. The commercial fishery north of the Mendocino-Sonoma county line opened last week with no trap restrictions.

Recreational crab trap restrictions will also be lifted starting at 8 a.m. Friday from the Sonoma-Mendocino county line to Lopez Point in Monterey County, CDFW officials said.

“This has been an extremely challenging year for California’s commercial fishing industry,” CDFW director Charlton Bonham said in a statement. “Today’s action ... strikes a balance. It protects whales and turtles, and it gets people on the water allowing our hardworking commercial fishing fleet to provide fresh sustainable crab to California residents.”

The environmental group Center for Biological Diversity expressed cautious enthusiasm for the state agency’s decision.

“I’m glad California officials are taking a cautious approach with opening the Dungeness crab fishing season, but I’m still worried about it,” Ben Grundy, oceans campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

“It’s been a rough fall and winter already with several entangled humpbacks and a leatherback sea turtle killed. My fingers are crossed that crab fishing doesn’t bring more humpback entanglements, but putting any fishing lines back in the water increases that risk,” Grundy said.

Dan McMenamin is the managing editor at Pagransen, directing daily news coverage of the 12-county greater Bay Area. He has worked for BCN since 2008 and has been managing editor since 2014 after previously serving as BCN’s San Francisco bureau reporter. A UC Davis graduate, he came to BCN after working for a newspaper and nonprofit in the Davis area. He handles staffing, including coaching of our interns, day-to-day coverage decisions and management of the newswire.