Japan's sushi king pays record price for bluefin tuna

Japan's sushi king pays record price for bluefin tuna

The popular chain Sushi Zanmai's CEO Kiyoshi Kimura has won the annual auction with a record $3.1 million bid (333,600,000 yen) for a 278kg bluefin tuna at Tokyo's new fish market that replaced the world-famous Tsukiji late previous year, The Guardian reported.

The record price - which equates to about $5,000 a pound - is more than double the previous high set in 2013, according to Masayuki Fukuda, an official in charge of trading operations at the Tokyo market.

Bluefin tuna normally sells for up to $40 a pound, but the price steeply increases by the year's end and reaches its highs for prized catches in Northern Japan.

The auction prices are way above usual for bluefin tuna.

Kiyoshi Kimura often pays over the odds for his beloved and endangered fish, and it was no different at Tokyo's new fish market for the first auction of 2019. "However, since I was able to buy a good one, I'd like customers to try it", Kimura told reporters.

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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The move to Toyosu was repeatedly delayed because of concerns over soil contamination.

The Japanese are the biggest consumer of bluefin tuna and experts warn the species could become extinct because of overfishing.

"We have a lot of tuna here like we did in Tsukiji", he said.

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.

Opened in 1935, Tsukiji was best known for its pre-dawn daily auctions of tuna, caught from all corners of the world, for use by everyone from top Michelin-star sushi chefs to ordinary grocery stores. A few businesses stayed in Tsukiji but almost all of the 500-plus wholesalers and other businesses shifted to Toyosu.

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