LA sushi bars busted for serving whale

Shock!  Somehow that Sei whale meat from Japan’s “scientific” whale hunt has found its way onto the plates of an LA sushi bar!  And giving this story an odd twist is the fact that the bust was initiated by hollywood activists that produced The Cove.

From the NYT: Oscar winners try to keep whale off sushi plates

with video cameras and tiny microphones, the team behind Sunday’s Oscar-winning documentary film “The Cove” orchestrated a Hollywood-meets-Greenpeace-style covert operation to ferret out what the authorities say is illegal whale meat at one of this town’s most highly regarded sushi destinations.

Their work, undertaken in large part here last week as the filmmakers gathered for the Academy Awards ceremony, was 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.

The sushi sting actually began in October, when the documentary’s associate producer and “director of clandestine operations,” Charles Hambleton, heard from friends in the music industry that the Hump, a highly rated sushi restaurant next to the runway at the Santa Monica airport, was serving whale.

Mr. Hambleton, who has worked as a water safety consultant on Hollywood movies like “Pirates of the Caribbean,” created a tiny camera for two animal-activist associates to wear during a monster session of omakase — a sushi meal in which the chef picks all the dishes.

Video of their meal shows the two activists, both vegan, being served what the waitress can be heard calling “whale” — thick pink slices — that they take squeamish bites of before tossing into a Ziploc bag in a purse.

The samples were sent to Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University. Professor Baker said DNA testing there revealed that the samples sent to him were 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. “I’ve been doing this for years,” Professor Baker said. “I was pretty shocked.”

Serving unusual fish imported from Japan is the hallmark of many high-end sushi restaurants here, and whale meat is often found in Japanese markets, Professor Baker said. But he said he had never heard of it being served in an American restaurant.


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