SANTA MONICA—On Friday, September 18, the last suspect in the case involving the illegal import and sale of endangered whale meat has reached its conclusion.
Ginichi Ohira, 54, was sentenced to two years of probation after being found guilty of a misdemeanor. The case came to fruition after the filming of the 2010 documentary, “The Cove” which is about dolphin hunting practices in Japan. The producers secretly filmed a sushi chef at the Santa Monica restaurant known as The Hump, illegally serving sei whale meat to diners. The documentary won an Academy Award back in 2010, for Best Documentary.
Ohira, back in 2011, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of knowingly pedaling an international protected species for an unauthorized purpose which was in violation of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. The act gives protection to all marine mammals. Ohira was not the only defendant involved in the case. He was sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul L. Abrams.
Kiyoshiro Yamamoto and Sushumu Ueda were both chefs at the now closed restaurant. They both pled guilty and received the same sentence. They were each fined $5,000 and had to complete 200 hours of community service as part of their two-year probation.
The Typhoon Restaurant Inc., which is a parent company of the restaurant The Hump was also charged in 2010, but the charges were dropped. Last year, the charges were refilled and revisited.
Brian Vidor, The Hump’s restaurant owner, after confessing that he had known that there was illegal whale meat being served his restaurant faced fines and probation.
Sei whales are an endangered species and it is illegal to sell whale meat of any kind in the United States.