Restaurant closes after serving whale meat

Santa Monica sushi restaurant
facing federal charges for serving endangered whale meat closed its doors for
good Saturday, according to a statement posted on the Hump’s website, 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,” reads the statement on the restaurant’s website.

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

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