Bluefin Tuna Sells for $3 million at Tokyo Market

Marcus Newton
January 6, 2019

The popular chain Sushi Zanmai's CEO Kiyoshi Kimura has won the annual auction with a record $3.1 million bid (333,600,000 yen) for a 278kg bluefin tuna at Tokyo's new fish market that replaced the world-famous Tsukiji late past year, The Guardian reported.

The buyer was Kiyoshi Kimura, president of the Sushi Zanmai restaurant chain.

A prospective buyers inspect the quality of tuna before the first auction of the year at the newly opened Toyosu Market, new site of Tokyo's fish market, January 5, 2019, in Tokyo.

The price was more than double the previous record of 155 million yen, which Kimura paid at the Tsukiji auction in 2013.

The rise in price was even noted by the auction victor and sushi-tycoon, Kimura when he was interviewed by the Japanese broadcaster NHK. The fish usually sells for up to $40 per pound, though the price can fluctuate to more than $200 per pound. "The price was higher than originally thought", he added.

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Bluefin tuna are classified as an endangered species by the World Wildlife Fund, which says the species is under threat from illegal fishing.

The market opened in October and replaces the old Tsukiji market, one of Japan's most popular tourist destinations. The move was delayed repeatedly due to concerns over soil contamination.

"The celebration surrounding the annual Pacific bluefin auction hides how deeply in trouble this species really is", said Jamie Gibbon, associate manager for global tuna conservation at The Pew Charitable Trusts. Experts warn it faces possible extinction, with stocks of Pacific bluefin depleted by 96 percent from their pre-industrial levels.

The successful bidder was Kiyomura Corp., the Tokyo-based operator of sushi restaurant chain Sushizanmai, which came out on top at Tsukiji for six consecutive New Year's auctions through 2017.

The Tokyo metropolitan government decided in 2001 to relocate the aging Tsukiji market to Toyosu, but the initial plan to open the new market in 2016 was pushed back following the discovery of pollutants and subsequent decontamination work. A few businesses stayed in Tsukiji but almost all of the 500-plus wholesalers and other businesses shifted to Toyosu.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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