Off the Hook

The U.S. Attorney’s office has apparently decided to forego prosecution of The Hump for selling endangered Sei whale sashimi to the makers of the Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove.” Evidently, the owners’ self-imposed death sentence for the Santa Monica restaurant satisfied the feds.

Self-flagellation should not be a substitute for law enforcement. I don’t really care too much about the fine, although the delicious justice of penalties going to Sea Shepherd would be perfect. But I do care that this gross violation of the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act and CITES should result in a larger investigation.

Who sold The Hump the whale? Who caught the whale in Japan? Who sold the whale to a U.S. distributor? Where else does that distributor do business and what will the feds do to shut them down? The Hump transaction may have been the tip of the iceberg for illegal trade to sushi restaurants.

Will we get answers to these questions? Now that the U.S dropped the prosecution, the likelihood of true justice for this heinous crime is zero.

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Japanese Delicacy

The so-called apology from the owners of the Hump, posted on their website, speaks for itself:

”The charge against the restaurant is true: The Hump served whale meat to customers looking to eat what in Japan is widely served as a delicacy … We sincerely apologize. We pledge to work hard to re-earn the trust of the public and respect of our customers.”

 

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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