Tuna fetches record 333 mil. yen at new market's New Year auction

05 January, 2019, 17:56 | Author: Brooke Harris
  • President of sushi restaurant chain Sushi-Zanmai Mr Kiyoshi Kimura, displays a 278kg bluefin tuna at his main restaurant in Tokyo on Jan 5 2019

It was paid by Kiyomura Corp., whose owner Kiyoshi Kimura runs the Sushi Zanmai chain.

The fish, valued at 1.2 million yen per kilogram, was caught off the coast of Japan's main island of Honshu.

"The tuna looks so tasty and very fresh, but I think I did too much", Kimura told reporters outside the market later.

Kimura bought the most expensive tuna in the first auction of the year from 2012 to 2017, including one at the previous record of 155.4 million yen in 2013.

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

Opened in 1935, Tsukiji was best known for its pre-dawn daily auctions of tuna, caught from all corners of the world, for use by everyone from Michelin-star sushi chefs to ordinary grocery stores.

At 5.10 am, handbells rang to signal the auction was underway and the air filled with the sound of auctioneers yelling prices at buyers, who raised fingers to indicate interest.

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Kimura has been the highest bidder at the new year auction for several years.

The Japanese are the biggest consumer of bluefin tuna and experts warn the species could become extinct because of overfishing.

"Finally, the first New Year auction was held at Toyosu market", said Yoshihiko Otaki, a market official.

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.

'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.

In contrast, the new market, located around two kilometres to the east at Toyosu, boasts state-of-the-art refrigeration facilities and is almost twice as big as Tsukiji.

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