Media Splash

Media attention rightly places heat on the Hump's owners. Photo: chewgooder.wordpress.com

About 100 outraged protesters came out to the beleaguered Hump restaurant during lunchtime today, shouting their displeasure with the Santa Monica eatery serving endangered whale meat. The Hump didn’t even bother opening due to the buzz surrounding the protest. 

Sea Shepherd organized the rally and members of  “The Cove” production team, Pelican Rescue and PETA all turned out in force. A couple of folks came dressed in Orca costumes, amid shouting and protest signs that included “Dump the Hump,” “Free Willy,” “The Hump Blows” and “Just Sei No!”  One sign included owner Brian Vidor’s supposed phone number.

Sea Shepherd will continue holding court at The Hump all day and into the night.

Media coverage of the protest was extensive, including broadcasters from Japan. Keeping the public pressure on the restaurant encourages the strongest possible actions from the Feds, which have filed charges against the restaurant for violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Hopefully, the Feds will seek at least $200K fines and jail time.

Also, Santa Monica’s city attorney should report back to the City Council at the March 23 meeting about possible action against the Hump, which sits on city-owned land. Short of putting human body parts on the menu, there isn’t anything worse than serving whale to restaurant customers. So business license revocation or lease termination are critical potential actions that the Santa Monica City Council could take. Stay tuned for possible Santa Monica government action.

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City to Investigate the Hump

At last night’s Santa Monica City Council meeting I spoke during public comment about what should be done about the Hump’s egregious and illegal serving of endangered whale meat.

Santa Monica City Attorney Marsha Moutrie responded that her office will investigate the illegality of The Hump’s actions at a restaurant located on city property at the airport.

The standard lease clause allows the city to terminate a lease in the event that the owners commit a crime, Moutrie said. Also, the city can revoke a business license for illegal activity.

Moutrie promised to come back to the city council with the results of the office investigation by the next council meeting in two weeks.

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Sei It Ain’t So!

The Hump in Santa Monica is under fire for allegedly sourcing endangered whale meat from the back of a Mercedes.

By now you’ve probably heard that Santa Monica restaurant the Hump allegedly served endangered Sei whale meat to the team that put together the brilliant, Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove.” Endangered whale served in our own backyard, less than two miles from my house and the offices of Heal the Bay, Santa Monica Baykeeper and the NRDC!

When my wife Lisette first called me about the New York Times piece I thought she was citing The Onion, not the Times. Then I got pissed.

I sent an e-mail to some Santa Monica city councilmembers asking them to take action immediately. Santa Monica is known as one of the most environmentally sensitive cities in the nation, so a local sushi house selling whale is an outrage and an embarrassment.

Councilmember Kevin McKeown, a vegetarian, responded by asking City Attorney Marsha Moutrie to investigate if a violation of the law is grounds for revoking the Hump’s business license.

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Fish Justice

Heal the Bay's Angler Outreach team. The program has educated over 80,000 anglers over the past 8 years on the health risks of eating contaminated fish. Image:Heal the Bay

Usually, we hear about the need for Environmental Justice because of the health tragedies that were allowed to get out of control. Asthma rates near the ports. Cancer Alley along the lower Mississippi. Pesticide-induced Cancer clusters near Macfarland and now, the cleft palate cluster near Kettleman Hills’ Hazardous Waste Facility. Rarely does the public hear about an Environmental Justice win, without the associated, demonstrated environmental health tragedy.

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Something’s Fishy

California halibut is now on reduced consumption list because of contaminant levels

California halibut is now on reduced consumption list because of contaminant levels

The state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) finally released its health advisory and safe eating guidelines for fish caught from coastal areas from Ventura Harbor south to the Dana Point area. The results do not bode well for those that regularly eat locally caught coastal fish.

The recommendations are based on a NOAA/EPA fish contamination study of DDT, PCB and mercury contaminant levels in fish collected over five years ago. The agency used some supplementary fish contamination data from Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts and Los Angeles monitoring programs as well. 

DDT and PCB manufacturing was banned over 30 years ago, but there are still over 100 tons of DDT and PCBs contaminating the sediments off of the Palos Verdes coast.

Despite the fact that OEHHA unconscionably chose to set the cancer risk for fish consumption at 1 in 10,000 (1 in 100,000 to 1 in a million is the norm and those ranges are the risk levels used by EPA), the health recommendations are pretty far reaching. Continue reading

Fishing for Compliments

Heal the Bay's Oralla, center, with other honorees

Heal the Bay's Orrala, center, with other honorees

The U.S. Environmental Protections Agency recently honored the Palos Verdes Shelf Fish Contamination Education Collaborative by awarding the group its National Citizen Excellence in Community Involvement Award.  Heal the Bay has been a member of the collaborative since its inception and our Pier Outreach Program has been one of the cornerstones of the effort to educate fish consumers in the Southland about the health risks of consuming DDT- and PCB-contaminated fish. The Pier Outreach Education Program, led by HtB staffers Frankie Orrala and James Alamillo, has educated more than 70,000 anglers at piers and jetties from Santa Monica to Long Beach on contaminated fish issues since 2002.

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‘Cove’ of Death

5snap_dolphin20The Sundance award-winning eco-documentary “The Cove” has justifiably been making some waves in the media.  I was lucky enough to go to a screening this week that was attended by the director, former National Geographic photographer Louie Psihoyos. The documentary chronicles a film crew catching the Japanese fishing village of Taiji in the act of mass dolphin killing in a small cove at a national park. The cover-up by the village to hide their deed is similar to every “hidden secret” horror movie ever made, only the threat is not vampires, zombies, or aliens from outer space.

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