Published: Sun, January 06, 2019
Money | By Wilma Wheeler

Giant tuna fetches record $3.1 million at Japan auction

Giant tuna fetches record $3.1 million at Japan auction

A 612-pound bluefin tuna sold for a record 333.6 million yen ($3 million) at the first auction of 2019, after Tokyo's famed Tsukiji market was moved to a new site on the city's waterfront.

Kiyomura held the previous record of 155.4 million yen for a 222-kg tuna in 2013.

It was bought by Kiyomura Corporation, whose owner Kiyoshi Kimura runs the Sushi Zanmai chain, the report said.

Those taking part in the first New Year auction at the Toyosu market let out shouts whenever the two men raised their bids.

Costing 1.2 million yen per kilogram, the total price of the 278-kilogram tuna from Oma, Aomori Prefecture, is the highest paid at the metropolitan central market since 1999, the first year for which such records are available.

The auction prices are way above usual for bluefin tuna.

The fish normally sells for up to $40 a pound but price rises to more than $200 a pound near the year's end.

"The price was higher than originally thought, but I hope our customers will eat this excellent tuna". Experts have warned of its extinction as stocks of the Pacific bluefin dropped by 96 percent of pre-industrial levels.

The market opened in October and replaces the old Tsukiji market, one of Japan's most popular tourist destinations.

Bluefin tuna is severely overfished and is listed as a vulnerable fish by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The move was delayed repeatedly due to concerns over soil contamination.

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

However, Japan and other governments are backing plans to rebuild stocks back to 20% 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. A few businesses stayed in Tsukiji but almost all of the 500-plus wholesalers and other businesses shifted to Toyosu.

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