Tuna sells for $323,000 at Tokyo fish market

Kiyomura Co’s President Kiyoshi Kimura, who runs a chain of sushi restaurants Sushi Zanmai, poses with a 190 kg bluefin tuna, priced with a 30.4 million yen bid at the fish market’s tuna auction. (Reuters)

In the final New Year’s auction at Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji fish market on Friday, the owner of an international sushi restaurant shelled out more than $300,000 for a prime bluefin tuna and said he was “very happy” with the result.

The world’s largest fish market, one of Tokyo’s most popular tourist sites, is set to relocate later this year to clear the way for a road needed for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Hiroshi Onodera, the president of LEOC Co. Ltd which owns the “Ginza Onodera” restaurant chain, paid 36.45 million yen ($323,195) for a 405-kg premium Pacific bluefin tuna - around $800 per kg.

LEOC Co’s Chairman, CEO and President Hiroshi Onodera, who runs a chain of sushi restaurants, poses with a 405 kg bluefin tuna outside Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, Japan. (Reuters)

The price was just over half that of last year’s winning bid of $657,000 and well below the record $1.3 million paid in 2013.

“I’ve tried to win in the auction since last year, so I’m really happy,” said Onodera, whose company has restaurants in New York and Singapore as well as in Japan. “This is especially true because it’s the last year in Tsukiji.”

Fishmongers hold a 405 kg bluefin tuna as they cut it in front of their store outside Tsukiji fish market. (Reuters)

Tuna is prized around the world for its use in sushi, but experts warn growing demand has made it an endangered species.

“The high price paid today for a single Pacific bluefin tuna should not distract from the dire status of the species, which has been depleted by more than 97 percent by years of overfishing,” said Jamie Gibbon, a Pacific bluefin tuna expert for the Pew Charitable Trusts, in a statement.

A wholesaler checks the quality of frozen tuna displayed at the Tsukiji fish market. (Reuters)

“If countries continue to exceed their catch limits...the very survival of the species will be threatened.”

The 80-year-old Tsukiji market draws tens of thousands of visitors a year to its warren of stalls with exotic species of fish and fresh sushi, part of a tourism boom that is a key part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic revival plan.

Bluefin tuna is seen at a shrine outside Tsukiji fish market. (Reuters)

“This will truly be the final auction here, so I made sure I came to watch,” said Mitsuko Yamaguchi, the 61-year-old owner of a seafood store.

Last Update: Monday, 8 January 2018 KSA 21:13 - GMT 18:13

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Tuna sells for $323,000 at Tokyo fish market
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