Japan's sushi king pays record $3M for giant bluefin tuna

Bluefin sold for $3 million in 1st 2019 sale at Tokyo market

Giant tuna fetches record $3.1 million in auction at Japan´s new market

Spending millions in the fish market is a sort of tradition for this Japanese entrepreneur, but this time he has outdone himself, setting a new record and splashing a whopping $3.1 million on a giant bluefin tuna.

Kiyomura Corp. owner Kiyoshi Kimura, right, poses with the bluefin tuna he made a winning bid at the annual New Year auction, in front of his Sushi Zanmai restaurant in Tokyo Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019.

Kimura has been a frequent visitor to the markets and for the past few years has been the victor of the annual auction.

The previous all-time record was also set by Kimura six years ago, when he paid 155.4 million yen (about $1.8 million) for a 222kg bluefin tuna.

This depletion could be one of the reasons the price of the tuna has gone up significantly - in previous years the fish has sold for £31 ($40) per pound, but this year's prices soared above £157 ($200) a pound.

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

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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The massive bluefin tuna was caught near northern Japan's Aomori prefecture, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK. The move was delayed repeatedly because of concerns over soil contamination.

'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.

Experts warn it faces possible extinction, with stocks of Pacific bluefin depleted by 96% from their pre-industrial levels.

After the auction, the fish was taken to one of Sushizanmai's branches located in the old market of Tsukiji.

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.

Tsukiji is scheduled to be redeveloped, though for now it's being turned into a parking lot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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