Wikimedia Commons/ José Antonio Gil Martínez
A bluefin tuna weighing nearly 500 pounds was auctioned off Saturday, Jan. 5 in Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market, and the winner paid a record 155.4 million yen (about $1.77million) for it, making it the most expensive tuna ever sold.
According to The Huffington Post, the giant fish was purchased by Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Kiyomura Co., which runs the Sushi-Zanmai restaurant chain. He also set a record with a purchase made last year, although this tuna is three times more expensive.
At about $3,603 per pound, the size of the fish doesn’t necessarily offset the astronomical price of it. Bluefin tuna is extraordinarily popular in Japan, where 80 percent of the world’s catch is eaten. The finest, fattiest cut of the fish, o-toro, comes from the belly and can sell for up to $25 per piece in high-end Japanese sushi bars. By contrast, it tops off at about $12 in Manhattan’s more expensive sushi restaurants, like Sushi Zen in Midtown.
Overfishing of bluefin tuna is rampant worldwide, and stocks have been depleted by upward of 50 percent since 1997. Major safeguards against completely wiping out the population have yet to be put into place (and those that are in place don’t work), and no doubt publicity stunts like this one will only help to make demand higher.