Film-makers tackle whale-meat smuggling

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The run-up to the Oscars are a heady time for nominees: a whirlwind of screenings, cocktails, celebrity encounters and, for the makers of this year’s prize winning eco-documentary, secret meetings in the parking lot of a sushi restaurant with federal investigators.

In an action worthy of the eco-commandos of Greenpeace, the makers of The Cove, an Oscar-winning documentary on Japan’s dolphin slaughter, helped break up an alleged whale meat smuggling operation at a Santa Monica sushi restaurant catering to “adventurous” eaters.

On offer at The Hump, aside from yellowtail tuna, live octopus and shrimp, and baby abalone, was what was said to be whale meat, despite a ban on the sale and possession of whales.

That went too far for Louie Psihoyos, the director of The Cove, who co-ordinated the sushi sting from the parking lot.

“These are endangered animals. They are protected species. It is one thing for the Japanese to be doing it in their own country, but I take it as a major affront that they are doing this on our shores,” he told the Guardian. “When they are cut up in little hunks of sushi it’s a tragedy.”

A spokesman for the US attorney’s office told the New York Times that the restaurant could be formally charged as early as this week. Anyone convicted could face prison or a fine of up to $20,000 (