Japan sushi tycoon pays record tuna price

Giant tuna fetches record $3.1 million in auction at Japan´s new market

Giant tuna fetches record $3.1 million at Japan auction

Japan's sushi king paid one whale of a price for a giant bluefin tuna, shelling out a record $3 million for 612 pounds of primo fish on Saturday.

Fish tycoon Kiyoshi Kimura, who runs the popular Sushi Zanmai chain, left the annual New Year's seafood auction on Saturday with most expensive fish in the world.

The self-styled "Tuna King" said "the quality of the tuna I bought is the best".

Kimura has been a frequent visitor to the markets and for the past few years has been the victor of the annual auction.

Costing 1.2 million yen per kilogram, the total price of the 278-kilogram tuna from Oma, Aomori Prefecture, is the highest paid at the metropolitan central market since 1999, the first year for which such records are available.

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.

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.

Experts warn that the bluefin faces possible extinction, with stocks of Pacific variety depleted by 96 percent from their pre-industrial levels.

Although the auction prices were way above usual for bluefin tuna, wholesalers and sushi tycoons have been known to pay eye-watering prices for the biggest and best fish, especially at the first auction of the new year.

However issues including concerns about outdated fire regulations and hygiene controls prompted the market to be moved to a larger and more modern site.

"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.

However, Japan and other governments are backing plans to rebuild stocks back to 20% by 2034.

The new market opened in October.

In contrast, the new market, located around two kilometres to the east at Toyosu, boasts state-of-the-art refrigeration facilities and is almost twice as big as Tsukiji.

Tsukiji is due to be redeveloped, though for now it's being turned into a parking lot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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