Vulnerable bluefin tuna sells for record $3.1 million at new Tokyo fish market

A bluefin tuna recently sold for a record $3.1 million at the first auction of the year at Tokyo’s new fish market, but behind the celebrations lies the worrying reality of overfishing and dwindling stocks.

Kiyoshi Kimura, who owns the Sushi Zanmai restaurant chain, paid 333.6 million yen for the 278 kg fish at the first auction to be held at Tokyo’s new Toyosu fish market.

The price paid was roughly double the previous record, also set by Kimura, in 2013. There was an intense bidding war with a rival buyer who had won last year.

Kimura said he was “very satisfied with the quality” of the fish. “The tuna looks so tasty and very fresh, but I think I did pay a little too much,” Kimura told reporters. He said a single piece of the tuna would be served to customers in his restaurants later that day.

Bluefin tuna is highly valued for its taste in sushi restaurants, but decades of overfishing have sent stocks plummeting.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies the Pacific bluefin tuna as “vulnerable,” with a decreasing population.

In response to the growing scarcity of the fish, Japan and other governments agreed in 2017 to strict quotas and restrictions on fishing, in an attempt to rebuild stocks.

But Japan and other countries are already lobbying for higher catch quotas for 2019 and there are reports of Japanese fishermen discarding and not reporting dead bluefin to avoid exceeding their quotas.

WATCH: Bluefin tuna sells for record $3.1 million at Tokyo auction

 

  AUTHOR
Amanda Coetzee
Digital Content Creator

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