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Whale Sushi Illegally Served By California Eatery: Prosecutor

A Santa Monica restaurant and its chef were charged with illegally selling whale sushi. i

Federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Typhoon Restaurant Inc., parent of The Hump restaurant, and the chef for allegedly selling Sei whale meat. Reed Saxon/AP Photo hide caption

itoggle caption Reed Saxon/AP Photo
A Santa Monica restaurant and its chef were charged with illegally selling whale sushi.

Federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Typhoon Restaurant Inc., parent of The Hump restaurant, and the chef for allegedly selling Sei whale meat.

Reed Saxon/AP Photo

Whale meat may be a delicacy in Japan. But in the U.S., with the exception of some native American groups in Alaska, most people find it unacceptable to eat and cetacean flesh is definitely illegal to sell.

But according to the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, a Santa Monica restaurant didn't let that stop them. The federal prosecutor has charged the parent company of a restaurant called the Hump, and the eatery's chef, with selling sushi made from the endangered Sei whale species.

Judging by the information in the prosecutor's press release and the criminal complaint, the evidence against the restaurant and the chef appears pretty strong:

The criminal complaint charges Typhoon Restaurant, Inc. — the parent company of The Hump restaurant, which is located at the Santa Monica Airport — and Kiyoshiro Yamamoto, a 45-year-old chef who resides in Culver City. Both defendants are charged with the illegal sale of a marine mammal product for an unauthorized purpose.

"Someone should not be able to walk into a restaurant and order a plate of an endangered species," said U.S. Attorney Andr?? Birotte Jr. "Federal law has a variety of provisions, including criminal statutes, intended to protect this planet's threatened natural resources. People should be aware that we will use these criminal statutes where appropriate to protect endangered species, including to ensure that they do not end up part of a meal."

According to the criminal complaint and a search warrant that was executed at the restaurant last Friday evening, The Hump sold whale sushi to customers on three occasions dating back to October. The meat sold as "whale" on two of the occasions was examined by scientists, who tested the DNA of the meat and determined it was Sei whale. Additionally, receipts given to customers at The Hump indicated that they had purchased "whale."

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