2 Southern California Sushi Chefs Indicted For Allegedly Selling Endangered Whale Meat

First Posted: Feb 02, 2013 09:28 PM EST

A former Santa Monica sushi restaurant 'Hump' which closed its door on 20th March 2010 after twelve years of business and two sushi chefs employees who were employees of Hump, were indicted by a federal grand jury  for selling endangered Sei whale meat. This announcement was made by the U.S Attorney's Office in Los Angeles.

"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. Closing the restaurant is a self imposed punishment on top of the fine that will be meted out by the court," says a statement on the company's website.

A federal grand jury has returned a nine-count indictment charging the parent company of The Hump, Typhoon Restaurant Inc, and the two chefs Kiyoshiro Yamamoto and Susumu Ueda for illegally importing and selling sei whales meat, which is protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and are listed as endangered in the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

If convicted, then Yamamoto could face a maximum sentence of 67 years in federal prison; Ueda could face a maximum of 10 years. And the parent company of Hump could be fined $1.2 million.

Yamamoto is charged with covering the purchase of the whale meat from Ginichi Ohira, a Japanese citizen in the U.S who is already in to trouble for selling marine mammal products. The sei whale meat was sold to the chef as fatty tuna. And Ueda is charged with lying to the federal agent about the source of whale meat.  

"Gary Lincenberg, the lawyer for the Hump, said in a statement that the restaurant accepted responsibility for the wrongdoing and would agree to pay a fine and resolve the matter in court," reports New York Times.

The company was busted for its illegal sale of meat after an undercover sting operation was conducted by animal activists and the associate producer of the Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove." The smaples of meat that was served to the activists that were tested at the Marine Mammal Institute, where he confirmed that the meat belonged to sei whale, endangered species.

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