Threatened Bluefin Tuna Sells For $5000 Per Pound In Tokyo Market

Threatened Bluefin Tuna Sells For $5000 Per Pound In Tokyo Market

Self-described Japanese "Tuna King" Kiyoshi Kimura paid a record $3 million for a 612-pound (278-kilogram) bluefin tuna at the first new year's auction in Tokyo on Saturday.

He spent more than twice the previous record of £1.1 million, which he paid in 2013.

The self-styled "Tuna King" said "the quality of the tuna I bought is the best".

"The tuna looks so tasty and very fresh, but I think I did too much", said Kiyoshi Kimura, who owns the Sushi Zanmai chain and hooked the monster catch with a 333 million yen offer at an annual auction in Tokyo.

This depletion could be one of the reasons the price of the tuna has gone up significantly - in previous years the fish has sold for £31 ($40) per pound, but this year's prices soared above £157 ($200) a pound. "The price was higher than originally thought", he added.

Tsukiji - the world's biggest fish market and a popular tourist attraction in an area packed with restaurants and shops - moved in October to Toyosu, a former gas plant a bit further east.

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Japanese are the world's major consumers of bluefin tuna and its overfishing has long invited worldwide criticism. The move was delayed repeatedly due to concerns over soil contamination.

Experts warn that the fish is facing potential extinction, with stocks of Pacific bluefin having dropped 96 percent from their pre-industrial levels.

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 percent of historic levels by 2034.

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.

In contrast, the new market, located around two kilometres to the east at Toyosu, boasts state-of-the-art refrigeration facilities and is almost twice as big again as Tsukiji.

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

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