Restaurant accused of serving whale meat closes

SANTA MONICA Calif. The Santa Monica restaurant accused of illegally selling meat from an endangered whales species closed its doors for good Saturday as a “self-imposed punishment.”

The parent company of The Hump, Los Angeles-based Typhoon Restaurant Inc., and one of its chefs, Kiyoshiro Yamamoto, face federal charges of unlawfully and knowingly selling sei whale to customers for an unauthorized purpose. All whales are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which makes it illegal to sell whale meat in the United States.

Violators face up to one year in prison and/or fines of $100,000 for individuals or $200,000 for organizations, according to court filings.

“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," the restaurant said in a statement on its website. "Closing the restaurant is a self-imposed punishment on top of the fine that will be meted out by the court.”

The 12-year-old restaurant was exposed by members of the documentary team that produced the Academy Award-winning movie “The Cove,” a film about dolphin slaughter in Japan. The filmmakers used a hidden camera to videotape the restaurant’s service of whale -- as well as horse meat -- sneaking the items out of the restaurant for analysis.

In its statement, Hump officials said the owner of the restaurant would be taking additional action to save endangered species, including making a “substantial contribution” to one or more responsible organizations dedicated to the preservation of whales and other protected animals.

Asecond restaurant operated by the same company, named Typhoon, remains open. Adjacent to The Hump at Santa Monica Airport, Typhoon is known for its pan-Asian menu that includes a selection of insects, such as Singapore-style scorpions, Taiwanese crickets and silkworm larvae.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected] [3].