Bluefin tuna sells for record £1m in Tokyo

 

A bluefin tuna sold for a record £1m million at a Tokyo auction today, nearly three times the previous high set last year — even as environmentalists warn that stocks of the majestic, speedy fish are being depleted worldwide amid strong demand for sushi.

In the year's first auction at Tokyo's sprawling Tsukiji fish market, the 222kg  tuna caught off northeastern Japan sold for 155.4 million yen, said Ryoji Yagi, a market official.

The fish's tender pink and red meat is prized for sushi and sashimi. The best slices of fatty bluefin — called "o-toro" here — can sell for 2,000 yen (£14) per piece at upmarket Tokyo sushi bars.

Japanese eat 80 per cent of the bluefin tuna caught worldwide, and much the global catch is shipped to Japan for consumption.

The winning bidder, Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Kiyomura Co., which operates the Sushi-Zanmai restaurant chain, said "the price was a bit high," but that he wanted to "encourage Japan," according to Kyodo News agency. He was planning to serve the fish to customers later today.

Kimura also set the old record of 56.4 million yen at last year's New Year's auction, which tends to attract high bids as a celebratory way to kick off the new year — or get some publicity. The high prices don't necessarily reflect exceptionally high fish quality.

The price works out to a stunning 700,000 yen, or nearly £5,000, per kilogram.

Stocks of all three bluefin species —the Pacific, Southern and Atlantic — have fallen over the past 15 years following overfishing.

On Monday, an intergovernmental group is to release data on Pacific Bluefin stocks that environmentalists believe will likely show an alarming decline.

"Everything we're hearing is that there's no good news for the Pacific Bluefin," said Amanda Nickson, the director of the Washington-based Pew Environmental Group's global tuna conservation campaign. "We're seeing a very high value fish continue to be overfished."

The population of another species, the Southern Bluefin, which swims in the southern Pacific, has plunged to 3-8 per cent of its original levels.

Stocks of bluefin caught in the Atlantic and Mediterranean plunged by 60 per cent between 1997 and 2007 due to rampant, often illegal, overfishing and lax quotas. Although there has been some improvement in recent years, experts say the outlook for the species is still fragile.

In November, the 48 member nations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, or ICCAT, voted to maintain strict catch limits on the species, although some countries argued for higher limits. The quota will be allowed to rise slightly from 12,900 metric tons a year to 13,500. Quotas were as high as 32,000 tons in 2006.

A total catch limit on the Pacific Bluefin has been imposed only recently in the eastern part of the Pacific near the United States and Mexico, but not by the intergovernmental group that oversees the western Pacific, Nickson said. So-called effort limits in place now — restrictions on the number of vessels and days fishing allowed — are not effective, she added, and fisherman also are targeting juvenile populations and spawning grounds.

"This poor species is being hit from every angle," she said.

News
peopleAlan McGee praises Bob Geldof for eulogy at Peaches' funeral
News
Hard at it: 'We have been trained too long to strive and not to enjoy,' wrote John Maynard Keynes. Has he been proved correct?
Campaigners call for 30-hour working week to allow for healthier, fairer society - and more fun
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
newsThe Gherkin to be auctioned off as receivers called in
News
people... says Canada's fisheries minister
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    NGO and Community Development in Cambodia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...

    Sports coaching volunteer jobs

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Kaya Responsible Travel offer a variety of sp...

    Turtle Nesting and Coral Reef Conservation in Borneo

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Volunteer with Kaya in Borneo and work on a p...

    Elephant research project in Namibia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: If you have a passion for elephants and want ...

    Day In a Page

    Cornwall is celebrating after being granted minority status - but what of other English counties' claims to independence?

    Which English counties should claim independence?

    From Berkshire to Yorkshire, our writers go back to their roots...
    Campaigners call for 30-hour working week to allow for healthier, fairer society - and more time for fun

    Campaigners call for 30-hour working week

    They argue it will allow for healthier, fairer society - and more time for fun. Bring it on, says Tom Hodgkinson, editor of 'The Idler'
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The fall of a mighty Austro-Hungarian stronghold

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    The fall of a mighty Austro-Hungarian stronghold
    10 best products for curly hair

    10 best products for curly hair

    Whether you wear them long, short or ignore them most of the time, curls need some TLC. It’s time to treat those wavy tresses
    Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

    Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

    The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
    Why musicians play into their old age

    Why musicians play into their old age

    Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
    How can you tell a gentleman?

    How can you tell a gentleman?

    A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
    Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

    Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

    The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
    Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

    Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

    Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
    Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

    Through the screen

    British Pathé opens its archives
    The man behind the papier mâché mask

    Frank Sidebottom

    The man behind the papier mâché mask
    Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

    Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

    Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
    Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

    Boston runs again

    Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
    40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

    40 years of fostering and holding the babies

    In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents