Now that The Cove has debuted in theaters and its producers have won Oscars, no one in the whale industry is safe from persecution. Not only has the film become an Academy Award winning hit, but it will also appear as a television show on the Animal Planet entitled, “Dolphin Warriors“. The activism doesn’t stop there because according to a report from The New York Times, The Cove team recently orchestrated an undercover sting to bust a sushi restaurant in California that’s been selling illegal whale meat.
The filmmakers took part in a major police operation last week as they were getting ready for the Academy Awards. They coordinated with “law enforcement officials, who said Monday that they were likely to bring charges against the restaurant, The Hump, for violating federal laws against selling marine mammals.”
According to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the United States attorney for the Central District of California, they’re rapidly moving to bring charges against the restaurant, which could be filed as early as this week. The sushi sting began last fall in October when the documentary’s associate producer Charles Hambleton, heard from friends that The Hump, a Santa Monica restaurant, was serving whale.
Hambleton had two undercover patrons visit the restaurant with hidden cameras only to discover that they were serving whale as a dish. They took samples and sent them to be tested by Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University. He then learned that the meat was taken from a Sei whale, which are found worldwide and are endangered but are sometimes hunted in the North Pacific under a controversial Japanese scientific program.
Armed with a search warrant, federal officials on Friday went searching for evidence from the restaurant, including marine mammal parts as well as various records and documents. The possession or sale of marine mammals is a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and can lead to a year in prison and a fine of $20,000.
Now that they’ve been exposed we can only imagine how much hot water the managers of the restaurant have found themselves in. The Cove team’s job is never done.
Are you familiar with the restaurant in question? Do you think they were right for busting them?