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Whale meat importer busted after Sea Shepherd sting

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Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is just about ready to chalk up a win against a California seafood dealer who imported endangered whale meat from Tokyo and sold it to Califorian restaurants. Today, according to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Ginichi Y Ohira was charged in Los Angeles federal court with selling whale meat in violation of the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society had run a sting operation to collect evidence related to the serving of whale meat.

Sea Shepherd activists Zoli Teglas and Crystal Galbraith and Charles Hambleton (producer of The Cove) visited The Hump resaurant in Santa Monica and pocketed peices of suspect meat for formal testing.

The Sea Shepherd has worked to draw attention to the Japenese scientific research program, which skirts international law against whaling by claiming to hunt whales for research purposes. Japan and South Korea are the only countries that allow the commercial sale of products killed as “incidental bycatch.” The Sea Shepherd ship often puts itself between Japanese whaling ships and targeted whales. Now the activists have stopped at least one end market from purchasing, and therefore supporting, illegal whaling of endangered ocean mammals.

U.S. federal investigators busted The Hump and forced it to permanently close. Charges against the restaurant and chef were dropped after they admitted to serving sei whale and pledging to make a substantial contribution to whale preservation and endangered species protection groups.

The Hump resturant named Ohira as their supplier as a part of their plea bargain deal. Ohira is reported to have begun importing whale meat from Japan about 10 years ago. Ohira's misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in federal prison, one year under supervised release, and a fine of $100,000.

The Sea Shepard recentely took a short break from fighting whalers to screen their new film 'Confessions of An Eco Terrorist’ at the Cannes Film Festival.

Amy Lou Jenkins is the author of the award-winning book Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting.

"Nothing less than Sensational"—Minneapois Star Tribune

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