Published: Sun, January 06, 2019
Markets | By Jeffery Armstrong

Bluefin tuna sells for record $3.1 million at Tokyo market

Bluefin tuna sells for record $3.1 million at Tokyo market

So you can nearly understand why Kiyoshi Kimura, owner of the Japanese restaurant chain Sushizanmai, recently made a decision to purchase a 613-pound, $3.1 million bluefin tuna for his restaurant. The price works out to 1.2 million yen per kilogram.

It was bought by Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Sushi Zanmai, a major sushi restaurant chain.

'I bought a good tuna, ' he told AFP after the auction. The fish usually sells for up to $40 per pound, though the price can fluctuate to more than $200 per pound.

Kimura has been a frequent visitor to the markets and for the past few years has been the victor of the annual auction.

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Kiyomura held the previous record for the New Year auction when it placed a bid of 155.4 million yen in 2013 for a 222-kg bluefin tuna.

Japan is the biggest consumer of the torpedo-shaped bluefin tuna and the national and worldwide demand for the fish has lead to overfishing of the species.

The market opened in October and replaces the old Tsukiji market, one of Japan's most popular tourist destinations. The move was delayed repeatedly because of concerns over soil contamination. Experts warn it faces extinction, with stocks of Pacific bluefin depleted by 96 percent from their pre-industrial levels.

Jamie Gibbon, associate manager for global tuna conservation at The Pew Charitable Trusts, said the celebration around the auction is "deeply troubling".

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There are signs of progress toward protecting the bluefin, and Japan and other governments have backed plans to rebuild Pacific bluefin stocks, with a target of 20% of historic levels by 2034.

The new market at Toyosu has already opened a balcony allowing visitors to witness the organised pre-dawn chaos in an attempt to attract tourists who previously visited Tsukiji.

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.

Tsukiji is due to be redeveloped, though for now it's being turned into a parking lot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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