Sushi restaurateur Kiyoshi Kimura was the top bidder of bluefin tuna in the year’s first tuna auction at Tsukiji market in Tokyo, Japan. The event normally draws very high bids given Japan’s insatiable appetite for the fish.
Kimura paid a whopping 7.36 million yen (about 70,000 USD) for the 507-pound fish. However, that price pales in comparison to his record breaking winning bid last year. In 2013, Kimura paid 154.4 million yen (about 1.7 million USD) for the 489-pound bluefin tuna.
Though the demand for bluefin tuna is high both in Japan and worldwide the high bid is more a fight for status and does not translate into a profit for Kimura. The first purchase at the Tsukiji market is a mark of honor to the auction patrons. Kimura would need to sell the fish at a minimum of $345 a plate to break even, but Kimura admits it will only sell for about $4.60 per serving – a huge loss.
The record breaking bid last year attracted a lot of criticism and complaints from Japan’s fish supplier industry. Many thought that the price of bluefin tuna had soared way out-of-control. Following this year’s relatively low bid, many are left wondering what it could mean for the industry but Kimura said that the bid had brought back sanity to the auction.
“I’m glad that the congratulatory price for this year’s bid went back to being reasonable,” said Kimura.
Environmentalists have already warned that the increasing global consumption of bluefin tuna will soon lead to its depletion and those who are supposed to take charge in managing the dwindling species are failing to protect it. Japan alone consumes about 80% of world’s bluefin tuna.
Stocks of all the three bluefin species-the Southern, Pacific and Atlantic-have reduced over the past 15 years due to overfishing. Currently, the bluefin tuna population is at an all-time low of less than 4% of its unfished size. According to global conservation group, The Pew Environment Group, over 90% of the fish is caught before maturity.
So far, very little has been done by governmental bodies to protect the species leaving many to have doubts about the sustainability of the bluefish tuna market.
Bluefin Tuna Sold For $1.7 Million In Japan
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