Japan sushi boss pays $117,000 for endangered tuna

January 5, 2016 11:30 pm


Kimura, second from left, president of Kiyomura Co., poses a bluefin
tuna at his Sushi Zanmai restaurant near Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.
Photo: AP photo/Eugene Hoshiko

A Japanese sushi boss paid more than $117,000 for a giant bluefin
tuna as Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market held its last New Year auction ahead
of a much-needed modernisation move.
Bidding stopped at a
whopping 14 million yen for the enormous 200-kilogram (440-pound) fish
— a threatened species — that was caught off ’s northern coast.
price was three times higher than last year but still far below a
record 155.4 million yen paid by the sushi chain operator in 2013 —
when a Hong Kong restaurant chain weighed in and drove up bidding — for
a slightly larger fish of similar quality.
The New Year auction
is a traditional feature at Tsukiji, where bidders pay way over the odds
for the prestige of buying the first fish of the year.
But it
came as Japan, the world’s largest consumer of bluefin tuna, faces
growing calls for a trade ban on the species, which environmentalists
warn is on its way to extinction.

The population of Pacific bluefin tuna is set to keep
declining “even if governments ensure existing management measures are
fully implemented”, Amanda Nickson, director of Global Tuna Conservation
at the Pew Charitable Trusts, said in a release.
Bluefin is usually the most expensive fish available at Tsukiji, the biggest fish and wholesale seafood market in the world.
A single piece of “otoro”, or the fish’s fatty underbelly, can cost up to several thousand yen at high-end Tokyo restaurants.
The growing popularity of Japanese sushi worldwide has stoked demand elsewhere.
the already dire state of the population — decimated to just four
percent of unfished levels — it is of particular concern that the
auction price is rising again,” Nickson added.
“The international community must let the Japanese government know that additional action is needed to save this species.”
auction winner, Kiyoshi Kimura, president of the firm behind the
popular Sushi-Zanmai restaurant chain, said he was “glad to make a
winning bid in the last New Year auction at Tsukiji.”
Kimura has won the bidding every year since 2012.
— a sprawling complex of tiny stalls and wholesalers popular with
tourists — will end its eight-decade history this year when it is
relocated to a modern facility in Toyosu, a few kilometres (miles) away.

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