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article imageIllegal Whale Sushi Being Sold in CA Restaurant

By Laura Trowbridge     Mar 12, 2010 in Food
The Hump restaurant in Santa Monica, California is facing criminal charges after being accused of using illegal whale meat in their sushi.
Chef Kiyoshiro Yamamoto of The Hump faces up to a year in prison, a personal fine of $100,000, plus another $200,000 fine for the restaurant for selling Sei whale meat.
"Sei whales are listed as an endangered species, and the sale of all whale meat is prohibited in the United States by the Marine Mammal Protection Act," said a statement from the local US Attorney's Office.
"Someone should not be able to walk into a restaurant and order a plate of an endangered species," said United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr.
Marine mammal activists who worked with Louie Psihoyos, director of the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove, went to The Hump with a hidden camera and microphone in October. They asked for whale meat and took away samples of it.
"These are endangered animals being cut up for dinner," Psihoyos said. "It's an abuse of science."
An investigation was started when Psihoyos took the findings to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Under a search warrant, it was confirmed that The Hump sold Sei whale meat on at least three occasions since last October. DNA tests were done on meat from the restaurant, confirming it was Sei whale. Also, customer receipts showed whale was eaten.
A statement on The Hump's website admits to the crime:
An Apology From The Hump
We write to address the misdemeanor charge recently filed by the U.S. Attorney. The charge against the restaurant is true: The Hump served whale meat to customers looking to eat what in Japan is widely served as a delicacy. In serving this meat, The Hump ignored its responsibilities to help save endangered whales from extinction and failed to support the world community in its uphill fight to protect all endangered species. While The Hump cannot undo the damage it caused, it will put into place procedures to ensure that it strictly complies with the laws and becomes a good corporate citizen. We sincerely apologize. We pledge to work hard to re-earn the trust of the public and respect of our customers.
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