The Hump, the Santa Monica sushi restaurant charged with serving endangered whale meat, admitted to the crime and issued an apology on its website.
"The charge against the restaurant is true: The Hump served whale meat to customers looking to eat what in Japan is widely served as a delicacy," reads the statement. "In serving this meat, The Hump ignored its responsibilities to help save endangered whales from extinction and failed to support the world community in its uphill fight to protect all endangered species."
The restaurant and its sushi chef, Kiyoshiro Yamamoto, were each charged by federal authorities with "illegal sale of a marine mammal product," a crime that could bring one year behind bars and fines of $200,000 for the eatery's parent company and $100,000 for Yamamoto.
The whale service, known among many foodies for years, was revealed to the rest of the world recently when a documentary film crew went undercover and reported three separate instances of the meat being brought out to a customer. Federal authorities tested the meat's DNA and found out it was endangered sei whale.
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It's not clear if the apology was part of a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office. (The restaurant's representative and the chef have not yet appeared in court).
"While The Hump cannot undo the damage it caused, it will put into place procedures to ensure that it strictly complies with the laws and becomes a good corporate citizen," the restaurant states. "We sincerely apologize. We pledge to work hard to re-earn the trust of the public and respect of our customers."
It's not clear if it will still have customers: The city of Santa Monica, which leases the venue to the restaurant, is considering whether or not to revoke the deal, using a loophole that would allow it do so if a crime has ocurred on the property.
The Hump and its sister restaurant Typhoon, however, appear to be successful tenants that occupy two stories of a building next to Santa Monica Airport.