Published: Sat, January 05, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Bluefin tuna sells for £2.5m world record at Tokyo fish market

Bluefin tuna sells for £2.5m world record at Tokyo fish market

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.

He bought the most expensive tuna at the first auction of the year from 2012 to 2017.

Self-styled "Tuna King" Kiyoshi Kimura paid the top price, which doubled the previous record of 155 million yen also paid by him in 2013.

Kimura runs the Sushi Zanmai chain and said he hopes his customers will get to enjoy the 612-pound (278-kilogram) tuna.

The new year auction prices are way above usual for bluefin tuna.

Later in the day sushi chefs sliced up the giant fish with special knives resembling Japanese swords at Kimura's main restaurant.

Last year's auction was the last at Tsukiji before the market shifted to a new facility on a former gas plant site on Tokyo Bay.

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Japan is the biggest consumer of the torpedo-shaped bluefin tuna and the national and global demand for the fish has lead to overfishing of the species.

A single piece of "otoro", or the fish's fatty underbelly, can cost dozens of dollars at high-end Tokyo restaurants.

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.

But the Japanese government, together with other countries, is backing plans to rebuild Pacific bluefin stocks of the fish, which is now depleted by 96 percent from their pre-industrial levels.

The Tokyo metropolitan government decided in 2001 to relocate the aging Tsukiji market to Toyosu, but the initial plan to open the new market in 2016 was pushed back following the discovery of pollutants and subsequent decontamination work.

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike, wearing white rubber boots, said: "I sincerely hope this market will be loved by many people".

The move was delayed repeatedly due to concerns over soil contamination.

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