A Japanese sushi boss paid more than US$117,000 (HK$912,600) for a giant bluefin tuna (藍鰭吞拿魚) at the New Year auction at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market (東京築地市場).
Bidding stopped at 14 million yen (HK$926,886) for the enormous 200-kilogram fish– a threatened species that was caught off Japan’s northern coast.
The price was three times higher than last year but still far below a record 155.4 million yen (HK$9.3 million) paid by the sushi chain operator in 2013.
Bluefin is usually the most expensive fish available at Tsukiji, the biggest fish and wholesale seafood market in the world. A single piece of otoro, or the fish’s fatty underbelly, can cost up to several thousand yen at high-end Tokyo restaurants.
The growing popularity of Japanese sushi worldwide has stoked demand elsewhere.
Japan, the world’s largest consumer of bluefin tuna, is facing growing calls for a trade ban on the species, which environmentalists warn is on its way to extinction.
The population of Pacific bluefin tuna is set to keep declining even if governments ensure existing management measures are fully implemented, a global tuna conservation group warned.
“Given the already dire state of the population – decimated to just four percent of unfished levels – it is of particular concern that the auction price is rising again,” a group spokesman said.
(This article is published on Junior Standard on 6 January 2016)
WWF – Bluefin Tuna
Global Tuna Conservation – The Pew Charitable Trust