That’s a LOT of sushi! 612lb Bluefin Tuna sells for record £2.4MILLION during first auction of 2019 at Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji fish market
- It was the first auction since Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji market was moved to new site
- Price was paid by Kiyomura Corp, whose owner Kiyoshi Kimura runs Sushi chain
- Japanese broadcaster NHK showed Kimura saying that he was surprised by price
A 612-pound bluefin tuna sold for a record 333.6 million yen (£2.4m) at the first auction of 2019.
It was the first auction since Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji market was moved to a new site on the city’s waterfront.
The winning bid for the prized but threatened species at the predawn auction Saturday was more than double the 2013 annual New Year auction.
President of sushi restaurant chain Sushi-Zanmai, Kiyoshi Kimura (R), displays a 278kg bluefin tuna at his main restaurant in Tokyo
It was paid by Kiyomura Corp., whose owner, Kiyoshi Kimura, runs the Sushi Zanmai chain. Kimura has often won the annual auction in the past.
Japanese broadcaster NHK showed a beaming Kimura saying that he was surprised by the high price of tuna this year. But he added, ‘The quality of the tuna I bought is the best.’
The auction prices are way above usual for bluefin tuna. The fish normally sells for up to £31 a pound (£69 a kilogram), but the price rises to over £157 a pound near the year’s end, especially for prized catches from Oma in northern Japan.
Kiyomura Corp. owner Kiyoshi Kimura, left, stands near the bluefin tuna which he made a wining bid at the annual New Year auction
Last year’s auction was the last at Tsukiji before the market shifted to a new facility on a former gas plant site on Tokyo Bay. The move was delayed repeatedly due to concerns over soil contamination.
Japanese are the biggest consumers of the torpedo-shaped bluefin tuna, and surging consumption here and overseas has led to overfishing of the species.
Kiyoshi Kimura (C), prepares to cut his 278 kilogram Bluefin tuna fish
Experts warn it faces possible extinction, with stocks of Pacific bluefin depleted by 96 percent from their pre-industrial levels.
‘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.
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.
Kiyomura Co’s employee holds the head of the 278kg bluefin tuna, and shows the fish’s yield
Decades-old Tsukiji was one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations as well as the world’s biggest fish market. The new market opened in October. A few businesses stayed in Tsukiji, but nearly all of the 500-plus wholesalers and other businesses shifted to Toyosu.
Tsukiji is due to be redeveloped, though for now it’s being turned into a parking lot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
President Kiyoshi Kimora of Japanese sushi chain Sushi-Zanmai tastes a piece of the tuna