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Bluefin tuna sells for Y4.51 mil at year's first auction in Tokyo

24 Comments

A giant bluefin tuna sold for 30% less than the sum paid last year at the Tsukiji market's first auction of the year in Tokyo on Monday.

The 180-kg tuna from Oma, Aomori Prefecture, fetched 4.51 million yen, down from the 7.36 million yen paid for a 230-kilogram bluefin tuna last year.

The winning bidder this year was once again Kiyoshi Kimura, president of the company that runs the popular Sushi-Zanmai chain. He said he was "surprised to win the bid at such a low price."

"But it's the best quality," he told local media. "I'm satisfied with buying the best one -- it has a good shape and great fat."

Kimura was also the winning bidder last year and in 2013 when the highest ever price of 155.4 million yen was paid for a 222-kg fish.

Bluefin is usually the most expensive fish available at Tsukiji, the biggest fish and wholesale seafood market in the world.

A piece of "otoro", or the fatty underbelly, can cost up to 2,000 yen at high-end Tokyo restaurants.

The price decline was in part due to the greater number of bluefin tuna available from Oma, Aomori Prefecture, that is a top site for tuna fishing.

After overheated bidding in 2013 saw prices skyrocket, concerns over excessive inflation saw other bidders stay away from vying with the Sushi-Zanmai chain.

Japan consumes three-quarters of the global bluefin catch, a highly prized sushi ingredient known in Japan as "kuro maguro" (black tuna) and dubbed by sushi connoisseurs the "black diamond" because of its scarcity.

The auction came as Japan, the world's largest bluefin tuna consumer, faces growing calls for a trade ban on the fish, which environmentalists warn is on its way to extinction.

In November, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature updated its "red list" of threatened species, warning that surging global demand for the fish was placing "unsustainable pressure" on the species.

© Japan Today/AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

24 Comments
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2 things.

what is point of this "auction" if Kimura always wins?

i thought anyway we were trying to "deglamourise" the bluefin to make it less of a thing and therefore start working towards not killing them off.
6 ( +9 / -3 )

1-Kimura doesn't always win. If you don't want Kimura to win, you simply have to outbid them, like in any auction. 2-It did attract less per kg than last year, especially if you consider the yen exchange rate. I don't think stopping seafood auctions is an effective way to reduce bluefin demand anyway. Maybe a better way would be to stop making it the default sashimi of choice. I often see bluefin left uneaten at large parties. It seems the chefs believe a sashimi platter without it is incomplete, without considering demand.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Japan consumes three-quarters of the global bluefin catch, a highly prized sushi ingredient known in Japan as “kuro maguro” (black tuna) and dubbed by sushi connoisseurs the “black diamond” because of its scarcity.

They admit how scarce it is, but still hunt it into extinction. Money can buy blue-fin tuna, but it can't buy commonsense!

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Tuna is often cited as having the highest cesium 137 concentration of any fish. Being great swimmers this fish would have most likely swum in an area most heavily polluted from the fallout from Fukushima.Just how the Japanese are oblivious to this danger is mind boggling ....

-2 ( +7 / -8 )

I was under the impression that most real sushi connoisseurs don't eat blue fin tuna because it was a cheap substitute and only became popular in the 60s and 70s?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

akami is a cheap substitute, but the marbled ootoro is not.

with new farming techniques developed by japanese universities, i think bluefin tuna will not be "hunted" into extinction.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Thanks rickyvee. I found an interesting article about the rise of bluefin tuna. I thought It would be good to share it if I can. The popularity of bluefin tuna seems to have an echo of beaujolais nouveau about it in my opinion.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/from-cat-food-to-sushi-counter-the-strange-rise-of-the-bluefin-tuna-5980010/

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

what is point of this "auction" if Kimura always wins?

The point is to buy publicity.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Something is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Finding a good bluefin tuna these days is like finding gold.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Hey! Price is going down!

At this rate, in about 20 years time I might be able to afford one!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I get that Nessie - i guess i am amazed that either he or the bluefin industry would want publicity given all of the bad vibes surrounding the overconsumption of blue fin at the moment.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

¥500 per slice should be the max for some fatty blue fin belly....

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

It's a culture thing hunting a species to extinction while paying too much, it's called Japanese style. Or J style, munch on that rear species, would you like an artificial beer to wash that down?

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

"Finding a good bluefin tuna these days is like finding gold."

According to the article it's like finding a black diamond...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Tuna is often cited as having the highest cesium 137 concentration of any fish.

And those levels are so low as to be of only academic interest.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/cesium-lining-tuna/

Being great swimmers this fish would have most likely swum in an area most heavily polluted from the fallout from Fukushima.

And adult bluefin tuna tend to spend most of their time in the deep ocean, which is far from 'the most heavily polluted from the fallout'.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

@ Mike O'Brien - Japanese hospitals advise pregnant women what not to eat - Tuna is on the list. (At least ours did 3 years ago) As is whale meat, BTW. Obviously there is quite a concern RE: pollutants. Whether cesium is one of those pollutants, I don't know.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japan consumes three-quarters of the global bluefin catch, a highly prized sushi ingredient known in Japan as “kuro maguro” (black tuna) and dubbed by sushi connoisseurs the “black diamond” because of its scarcity.

So the inhabitants of this little resource-poor islnd chain consumes 75% of the world supply?! Sounds sustainable and responsible. Japanese will never learn. To overconsume something and eat stuff because there is little supply is foolish. At best. Ignorant and stupid is probably more fitting words. It's good to know that these people don't give a F about anything unless it's about them. Unsustainable fishing, whaling, dolphining...? F that! We do as we please. And they wonder why they never really are considered part of the developed world... Haha.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

And they wonder why they never really are considered part of the developed world...

After that rant, I wonder if you consider yourself part of the developed world, Knox-san.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

@BurakuminDes - I never said anything that contradicts your whing. Tuna, and many other seafoods, tend to be high in mercury. Mercury is a bad thing for anybody but especially pregnant women. In fact most countries suggest that pregnant women avoid or at least limit seafood such as tuna.

As far as whether cesium is one of those pollutants, I DO know, and it isn't. Did you even bother to read the link I provided?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The seller should have gotten a couple of ringers to inflate the price. It looks as if Kimura was willing to go a lot higher.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Does this look like to anyone that Japan is curbing its tuna consumption?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not one opinion here - at least so far, it seems - is based on the writer's appreciation of the taste. Odd, that.

And, while I appreciate the comments about depleting the species - perhaps even eliminating it (perish the thought) - I believe logic will prevail and the 'harvest' will become limited, much like the American/Canadian westcoast fisheries have overseen their sockeye salmon catches.

'Nuff said, I've enjoyed bluefin sushi, pricey as it is, not all that often admittedly, but often enough to really enjoy it. Sorry.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So much for the narrative that Japan in poor.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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