4.5 Years Later, Restaurant Owner Pleads Guilty To Serving Whale Meat

Way back in March 2010, we brought you the story of The Hump, a sushi restaurant in Los Angeles charged with violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act by serving the meat of the Sei Whale. The eatery has since closed, but the case against its owner has lingered, until yesterday, when he entered a guilty plea in federal court.

Both The Hump’s parent company and its owner pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sale of a marine mammal, reports the L.A. Times. The two defendants will pay a total fine of $27,500.

As part of the plea agreement, the owner will be on probation for 12 months if the court approves of the deal.

Documentary producers who had previously made the Oscar-winning film The Cove about dolphin hunting in Japan, secretly filmed chefs at The Hump preparing whale meat for customers who requested the illegal delicacy.

This led to an undercover investigation by federal authorities, who say the chef retrieved the whale meat from his car in the parking lot before slicing it up for customers.

Shortly after the March 2010 bust, the restaurant issued a public apology, saying that it had “ignored its responsibilities to help save endangered whales from extinction and failed to support the world community in its uphill fight to protect all endangered species.”

The Hump vowed to put into place new policies to prevent a repeat of such an incident, but within a month the eatery was closed.

Two Hump chefs have already pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of conspiracy and the sale of marine mammals, but have yet to be sentenced.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.