Meat from whales killed as part of Japan's "scientific" hunt was served last year in upscale sushi restaurants in Los Angeles and ...

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TOKYO — Meat from whales killed as part of Japan’s “scientific” hunt was served last year in upscale sushi restaurants in Los Angeles and Seoul, according to a DNA analysis published Wednesday.

A global ban on whaling was imposed 14 years ago, but Japan has invoked an exception to the ban for scientific research and sends a whaling fleet that harpoons several hundred whales a year. The fleet brings home thousands of tons of whale meat sold throughout Japan.

The peer-reviewed DNA analysis showed that two pieces of whale meat sold last October in a Los Angeles-area restaurant called The Hump were “identical” to whale products purchased in Japan in 2007 and 2008, according to a paper written by an 11-member group of scientists and conservationists from the United States, South Korea and Japan.

The authors said the meat came from a sei whale killed in the North Pacific during a Japanese scientific hunt. In Los Angeles last month, The Hump’s owner apologized after federal prosecutors charged the owner and principal chef with the illegal sale of a marine-mammal product.

The DNA analysis also matched fin whale meat served last year in a Seoul restaurant to fin whale products sold in Japan, according to the paper, which appeared online in the journal Biology Letters, published by the Royal Society.