Created on: January 07, 2013
At the year’s first auction at the Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market in Tokyo, a 489-pound Bluefin tuna sold for a record price of 155.4 million yen ($1.77 million) on Saturday. Kiyoshi Kimura, the president of Kiyomura Co., which operates the Sushi-Zanmai restaurant chain, was the winning bidder.
With the hefty auction price, the item amounts to roughly $3,600 per pound. Despite the expensive piece of fish, Kimura, who set
last year’s New Year’s auction price with 56.4 million yen ($643,175), told a local news outlet that he hopes the auction will “encourage Japan by providing good tuna” and added that he “wanted to live up to the expectations of my clients.”
The auctioned fish is used for sushi and sashimi because of its pink and red meat. It has been noted by various media outlets that the best part of the fish, “o-toro,” can sell for approximately 2,000 yen ($24) per piece at Tokyo sushi bars. Kiyomura claims his company will sell it at regular price between 128 and 398 yen ($1.47 to $4.56) per piece, notes the Los Angeles Times.
Much of what is sold at the annual auction is for publicity and to initiate a positive attitude for the upcoming business year. Even bidding prices are based on these factors rather than size or the quality, according to Japan Daily Press.
Approximately 80 percent of the world’s Bluefin tuna that have been caught across the globe are eaten by the Japanese. But environmental groups say that stocks of the fish are deteriorating because of the high demand for sushi.
Amanda Nickson, the director of the Washington-based Pew Environmental Group's global tuna conservation campaign, told the Associated Press new upcoming data on the Pacific Bluefin suggests that there is an alarming decline in the fish as well as the Southern Bluefin. Updated and in-depth data is expected to be released sometime this week by an intergovernmental group. Experts believe it will show a dire figure for the dying fish.
“Everything we're hearing is that there's no good news for the Pacific Bluefin,” said Nickson. “We're seeing a very high value fish continue to be over-fished. This poor species is being hit from every angle.”
Despite reforms and improvements in recent years, stocks of Bluefin caught in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean have dropped by nearly two-thirds between 1997 and 2007 because of extensive over-fishing that is often illegal and lenient quotas by public officials.
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas reports that there are as few as 25,000 individual mature Bluefin tuna available in the ocean.
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