Bluefin tuna nets $1.8m

2013-01-06 18:15
Winning bidder Kiyoshi Kimura, poses with a bluefin tuna in front of his Sushi Zanmai restaurant near Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. (Shuji Kajiyama, AP)

Winning bidder Kiyoshi Kimura, poses with a bluefin tuna in front of his Sushi Zanmai restaurant near Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. (Shuji Kajiyama, AP)

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Tokyo - A monster bluefin tuna sold for a record-breaking $1.8m in the year's first auction at Japan's Tsukiji fish market on Saturday, nearly three times the previous high set last year.

The 222kg fish, caught off Japan's northern city of Oma, fetched a winning bid of $1.8m, said an official at the Tokyo fish market.

The figure dwarfs the previous high of $649 000 paid at last year's inaugural auction at Tsukiji, a huge working market that features on many Tokyo tourist itineraries.

Saturday's winning bidder was Kiyoshi Kimura, president of the company that runs the popular Sushi-Zanmai chain, who also won the auction for last year's record-breaking bluefin.

"I wanted to meet expectations of my customers who said they wanted to eat Japan's best tuna again this year," Kimura was quoted by Jiji Press as saying after the intense pre-dawn bidding.

"With this good tuna, I hope to help cheer up Japan," Kimura said.

Based on the price paid - around $7 986/kg - a single slice of sushi from the monster fish would cost diners as much as $342.

But Kimura plans to sell it at a huge loss, for a more realistic price of up to $4.5 per portion, local media reported.

Bluefin is usually the most expensive fish available at Tsukiji.

Decades of overfishing have seen global tuna stocks crash, leading some Western nations to call for a ban on catching endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna.

Japan consumes three-quarters of the global bluefin catch, a highly prized sushi ingredient known in Japan as "kuro maguro" (black tuna) and dubbed by sushi connoisseurs the "black diamond" because of its scarcity.

A piece of "otoro" or fatty underbelly can cost some $23 at high-end Tokyo restaurants.

- SAPA
Read more on:    japan  |  marine life
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