The five-year long case finally sees some closure, and the endangered whale meat dealer gets two years probation after it was found that the customers were unknowingly given illegal servings from a law-protected marine animal.
- Federal law prohibits the sale of any type of whale meat in the United States
- Sei whale is internationally protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act
- Customers could request a serving of whale meat only after working up a $600 tab
- Two undercover crew members of the documentary unveiled the illegal activity and returned with NOAA agents
- The Hump restaurant that served Japanese food is now closed
The United States law prohibits the distribution and consumption of all kinds of whale meat, including the sei whale that was imported from Tokyo, Japan to The Hump restaurant in Santa Monica, California. The investigation was launched back in 2010, after a documentary called “The Cove” secretly filmed the sushi chef preparing and serving federally protected whale meat.
It had drawn the attention of both government agents, who had gone undercover, and environmental groups until the violation was finally caught, and now the culprits will be taxed for their actions.
The Gardena seafood dealer, Ginichi Ohira, aged at 54 years old, has been the final defendant to receive his sentence by U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul L. Abrams after pleading guilty in 2011 of purposefully and knowingly handling illegal meat of an internationally protected species, for the unauthorized purpose of consumption in direct violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Ohira received 2 years of probation, with possible jail time, for importing and selling illegal sei whale meat to the popular restaurant along the coast of Santa Monica, that has shocked many of its customers due to the illegal activity behind the doors of its kitchens.
The two chefs who prepared the meat and fully aware of its origin, Kiyoshiro Yamamoto and Susumu Ueda, were fined $5,000 and ordered to 200 hours of community service during the 2-year long probation in May. They were first charged in 2010, but the charges were dropped, and then once again revisited until the two plead guilty in 2014 to misdemeanor counts of conspiracy, along with the sale of whale meat protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The Hump restaurant owner, Brian Vidor, along with the parent company, Typhoon Restaurant Inc., were also fined and received probation after he admitted to knowing that his chefs were serving illegal sei whale meat in direct violation of federal law.
The restaurant was known as one of the top date spots in the area, serving exquisite Japanese food that has turned out to include highly prohibited servings of an endangered marine animal. The Hump was closed due to the accusations that have finally bore fruit with the sentences and fines delivered to all those involved.
As stated by U.S. Attorney Dennis Mitchell, “justice has been done”, and the case has finally been closed since its beginning in 2010.
Image source: animalblawg.wordpress.com