TOKYO: A Japanese sushi boss paid more than $117,000 on Tuesday 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-kilogramme (440-pound) fish – an endangered species – that was caught off Japan’s northern coast.
The price was three times higher than last year but still far below a record 155.4 million yen paid in 2013 – when a Hong Kong restaurant chain weighed in – 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.