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Friday 29 August 2014

The head on that! €1.3m fish hooked

Malcolm Foster in Tokyo

Published 06/01/2013 | 05:00

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A sushi restaurant worker holding the head of a 489lb bluefin tuna, which sold for eur1.34m at an auction in Tokyo

A bluefin tuna sold for a record €1.34m at a Tokyo auction yesterday, nearly three times the previous high set last year.

In the year's first auction at Tokyo's sprawling Tsukiji fish market, a 489lb tuna, caught off north-eastern Japan, sold for 155.4 million yen.

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The fish's tender pink and red meat is prized for sushi and sashimi, but bluefin tuna stocks have fallen globally over the past 15 years amid overfishing.

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 "give Japan a boost". He was planning to serve the fish to customers later.

Mr Kimura also set the old record of 56.4 million yen (€489,585) 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 per kilogramme, or €2,756 per pound.

The best slices of fatty bluefin, called o-toro, can sell for 2,000 yen (€18) per piece at Tokyo sushi bars.

Sunday Independent

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