Whale served at sushi restaurant

March 20, 2010 at 2:02 PM

SANTA MONICA, Calif., March 20 (UPI) -- A Santa Monica, Calif., sushi restaurant says it is closing its doors voluntarily after serving endangered whale meat.

But The Hump restaurant at the Santa Monica Airport also faces federal charges, The Los Angeles Times reported.

On its Web site, the restaurant said, "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."

The newspaper report said the restaurant took responsibility once charges were lodged, the charges themselves came only after an undercover sting operation by animal activists and the associate producer of the Oscar-winning documentary, "The Cove."

The $600 "chef's choice" included eight pieces of whale, the activists said. The Times said the activists bagged the meat and sent it off to the Marine Mammal Institute, where it was found to be the endangered Sei whale.

The Times said U.S. prosecutors last week charged the owner and chef of the restaurant with the illegal sale of whale meat, a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act that carries a maximum one year in prison and a maximum fine of $200,000.

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