Sushi Tycoon Buys Giant Bluefin Tuna for 3.1 Million Dollars

A wholesaler checking frozen tuna ahead of the new year's first auction at the Toyosu Market in Tokyo on Jan 5 2019

A wholesaler checking frozen tuna ahead of the new year's first auction at the Toyosu Market in Tokyo on Jan 5 2019

This year's auction was the first of the Toyosu market after the famed Tsukiji fish market shut in 2018 to provide temporary parking for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

President of sushi restaurant chain Sushi-Zanmai, Kiyoshi Kimura (R), displays a 278kg bluefin tuna at his main restaurant in Tokyo on 5 January 2019.

Those taking part in the first New Year auction at the Toyosu market let out shouts whenever the two men raised their bids.

The winning sum for the prized and threatened species at the auction was more than double the previous record from the annual New Year auction, set in 2013. The fish normally sells for up to $40 a pound ($88 a kilogram) but the price rises to more than $200 a pound near the year's end, especially for prized catches from Oma in northern Japan.

'The price was higher than originally thought, but I hope our customers will eat this excellent tuna'.

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

Bluefin tuna are classified as an endangered species by the World Wildlife Fund, which says the species is under threat from illegal fishing.

In previous years, the market was held at Tsukiji, which was the world's biggest fish market and a popular tourist attraction in an area packed with restaurants and shops.

However issues including concerns about outdated fire regulations and hygiene controls prompted the market to be moved to a larger and more modern site.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

Kimura purchased the fish at an auction at Tokyo's newest fish market.

The Toyosu market took over the operations of the world-famous Tsukiji market in the capital's Chuo Ward last October.

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