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Santa Monica sushi restaurant to close after serving whale meat

A Santa Monica sushi restaurant facing federal charges for serving endangered whale meat appears set to close its doors Saturday, according to a statement posted to The Hump's website Friday which called the decision a “self-imposed punishment."

“The Hump hopes that by closing its doors, it will help bring awareness to the detrimental effect that illegal whaling has on the preservation of our ocean ecosystems and species,” read the statement on the restaurant's longstanding website.

Phone calls to the restaurant and its attorney were not answered late Friday.

Federal prosecutors last week charged the owner and chef of the restaurant at the Santa Monica Airport with the illegal sale of whale meat in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a maximum fine of $200,000.

While the restaurant immediately took responsibility once it was charged, the charges came only after an undercover sting operation that was orchestrated by animal activists and the associate producer of the Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove.”

The activists used a tiny video camera to record their payment of $600 for the omakase, or chef's choice, which included eight pieces of whale. The activists bagged samples of the meat and sent them to the Marine Mammal Institute, where they were determined to be Sei whale, an endangered species.

In the online posting, The Hump also vowed to make a “substantial contribution” to whale preservation or endangered species groups and apologized to the public for “our illegal actions.”

-- Tony Barboza

Read more about the allegations:

Santa Monica sushi restaurant charged with illegally selling whale meat

Whale -- it shouldn't be for dinner

Photo: Criminal charges have been filed against the Hump, a hip sushi restaurant at the Santa Monica Airport. An attorney says the eatery has accepted "responsibility for the wrongdoing" and would pay a fine. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (54)

Sad. If only they had done the right thing from the beginning, an otherwise good restaurant would still be open. Fortunately, in their closing decisions and actions, they are turning lemons into lemonade. Kudos for that.

Call me cynical, but I'm guessing the owners are just cutting their losses -- not turning over a new leaf. I expect they will simply reopen at a new location with a new name, consider they got away cheap on this one, and be more careful next time about which customers they offer to serve endangered species.

They will change their name and location and continue on, BECAUSE of money !
FOUL! AND if you think they are the only ones doing illegal food services you are uninformed. There are hundreds that serving things they should not. Human breast milk cheese, dogs, cats and who knows what else., OH, YEAH , endangered WHALE MEAT! Between sex offenders who are killing our young and innocent and people who serve endangered species in Los Angeles this once beautiful city is going down the tubes with it's problems. The agencies overseeing the public are not doing their job. Even when there was money in the budget things were screwed up.
No wonder pot dispensories are everywhere. People are self medicating just to deal with the stress of every day life on planet earth!
Someone should follow this restaurant's path after leaving it's current location. See where they set up next. They have to make a living ....... RIGHT?????

Darn, there goes my only chance to chaw on some Whale blubber-well,there's always Snails.

Props to the owners for accepting responsibility. You rarely see that anymore.

Good ending

Darn never tried whale meat! Hmm Dolphin either.. pity we can't have a gourmet club like in the movie the Freshman.

I believe that the maximum penalty of one year in prison and a maximum fine of $200,000 is too soft considering the monstrous cruelty being suffered by the whales in the hands of men as they are killed in order to be served as sushi in this restaurant. Its tragic because it happened in America, supposed to be the world's leader in protecting endangered species, animal rights, etc.

I love whale tacos!

Typhoon downstairs from The Hump has the same owner. Keep pressure on Typhoon as well, they profited from the sale of whale meat!!

More jobs lost in California.

are the protesters meat eaters? do they consume cow's, pigs, and chickens? we should just protest meat consumption all together =)

Great how the owner gets religion after he's busted. Also, like cockroaches, there ain't never just one. This is happening in lots of sushi joints.

While it was stupid of the restaurant to serve whale meat, I noticed that on about the same day, a protest was held in Compton to denounce the shootings of two children. Did any of these protestors join in that event? Or is the shooting of children of color in a poor neighborhood not as "feel good," and not as easy a target as protesting an uppity restaurant that serves whale meat? Phonies.

So, they had to mount their own investigation? Where were the authorities who get payed to do it? Seems like CA is running on autopilot most of the time.

Can we do the same to the Republican Party?

More people on the unemployment roles. Maybe Barack could bail them out, and absolve them of their "sins", if they agree to support his health care boondoggle.

Wow, can you imagine the impact if the people of Santa Monica reacted this way when Richard Juarez was murdered at Virginia Avenue Park? A young life is cut short and you hear barely a peep from downtown or NoMo. But whale is being served: protests, signs, bullhorns, press releases, interviews, outrage, blah blah blah. It was described as an international embarrassment. Are we not embarrassed that a young man was shot next to a police substation?

Is it endangered?? It's just a mammal. When you think of it, there really isnt a difference between eating cow, horse, or whale. My only gripe would be if they were on the endangered list, which not all whales are!

good. How sad that there is even a demand for such meat.

I've eaten at the other restaurant at the SM Airport -- the Typhoon. VERY pricey, and overpriced. They have several very exotic unappetizing things on the menu, like fried grasshoppers. Yuck. I think that since the Typhoon has been associated with its other place (also at the airport), it will turn off a lot of people. There used to be a nice restaurant at the airport, but it's gone now. It was a place where families came for Sunday dinner, and where they planned family birthday parties. The airport needs a nice restaurant -- not one that only serves "exotic" food at outlandish prices. The little restaurant across the street from the airport (and the dog park) is very good, but the airport building needs something more like a real first class restaurant. Typhoon is too expensive and too "trendy" to be the only restaurant on the airport grounds. Getting rid of The Hump is a good first step toward perhaps having a real family restaurant there again.

That's too bad. I enjoyed my whale meat there. Now where am I gonna get it?

Good, they deserve to lose their business. I can't help but wonder how many other restaurants engage in similar practices...

Justice is 'served'..... :-)

Fish populations are collapsing world wide, but people get upset about whale meat at one restaurant? It is unfortunate this whale died, but it's the other animals that swim that are going down. "Sushi" should be in the history books as of now. You want to save the oceans, stop killing fish!

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