A Santa Monica restaurant has pleaded guilty to federal charges as the result of a year long investigation between 2009 and 2010. The charges claim that the restaurant served meat from the Sei whale, an endangered species. Typhoon Restaurant Inc., parent company of The Hump, is facing charges along with restaurant owner Brian Vidor.
Brian Vidor pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sale of a marine mammal. The Hump, now closed down, was located at the Santa Monica Municipal Airport. Sushi chefs used the Sei whale meat in their food and have previously pleaded guilty to the charges. Vidor recently pleaded guilty to being aware of the use of the Sei whale in sushi that was prepared at his restaurant, as well as allowing it to happen. As a result, he will pay a portion of a $27,500 fine along with parent company Typhoon Restaurants Inc. Vidor will also face 12 months of probation, according to the LA Times.
Ginichi Ohira has pleaded guilty of providing the Sei whale meat to the restaurant.
The Hump was known for its creative menu of exotic sea foods. “The Cove”, a documentary, revealed the whale meat ingredient when it secretly filmed at the restaurant. As a result, members of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Customs, and the Border and Protection and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, launched their investigation. The members sat at the sushi bar and observed the sushi chef leave the restaurant and return with a a package of whale meat from his car. After serving the endangered meat, he whispered to the investigators that it was whale meat.
According to the Associated Press, The Hump was closed down in 2010, but Vidor has only recently pleaded guilty to being aware of the use of Sei whale meat.
Although the Sei whale is not on the top ten endangered species list, it is still in danger of becoming extinct. The individuals that consumed the whale meat are not in danger of prosecution, as most were most likely notaware of the legal issues surrounding the serving of such meat. However, Typhoon Restaurants Inc. and Brian Vidor are scheduled to appear in court on February 23rd.
In 2010, protesters marched outside of The Hump to bring awareness to the bring awareness and show their distaste of the decision to serve endangered whale meat. Although the whale population was unnecessarily lowered due to the practice, the only dish that will be served at the Hump is justice when the sentencing occurs.
[Photo Courtesy: LA Times]