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Activists march on whale-sushi restaurant

March 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Protestors marched Friday outside the Santa Monica restaurant that admitted selling the meat of endangered whales. The restaurant has issued an apology and accepted responsibility for what happened. But protestors want more. Dozens of activists protested outside The Hump restaurant during lunch hour Friday. Some protestors wore whale costumes, outraged the popular eatery had been selling whale meat.

"It's absolutely shameful, I mean this is something that is just inexcusable," said Deborah Bassett as she marched in the parking lot.

The restaurant was exposed by the producers of the Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove," a film about dolphin hunting. They conducted an undercover operation to document the sale of whale meat. The Hump is popular for serving unusual sushi.

"Basically you have to sit there for a long time, gain the confidence, and they will slowly introduce you to more and more exotic species," said protest organizer Curt Lieber.

Lieber said getting the chef to serve whale sushi was very secretive.

"Some of our volunteers went in there and slowly were able to gain the confidence of the cook, and they found out that they were able to sell it," said Lieber.

The restaurant was closed Friday, and on its Web site it apologized, admitting the charge is true.

The online statement said: "The Hump 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. While The Hump cannot undo the damage it caused, it will put into place procedures to ensure that it strictly complies with the laws and becomes a good corporate citizen."

But that is not enough for people who say they want to know how the restaurant was able to get whale meat delivered.

"We caught three pounds of a couple-ton whale. Now let's go for the rest of the whale, and the rest of the people involved in this, because this is like a RICO investigation. This is organized crime," said protestor Ed Buck.

The restaurant is located on city property at Santa Monica Airport. Some city officials want to revoke its lease.

Meanwhile, the charges are misdemeanors. The chef faces a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. The restaurant itself faces a $200,000 fine.