The Hump, a Santa Monica restaurant facing federal charges for allegedly serving whale meat, has closed.
"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," reads the statement on the restaurant's website.
The restaurant served whale meat to the team from the Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove,” whose members visited with hidden cameras. Members collected specimens that were tested and confirmed as being the flesh of a sei (pronounced SAY) whale.
After the New York Times broke the story, the media and protesters swarmed the restaurant, which is located at the Santa Monica Airport.
On March 10, federal officials charged the owner and chef of the restaurant with the illegal sale of whale meat in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a maximum fine of $200,000.
It is illegal to sell any kind of whale meat in the United States, and sei are listed as endangered. Sei whales are the third-largest baleen whale, behind the blue and fin whales.
The International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986 to give the endangered whale populations a chance to recover.