First Bluefin of the Year Sold at Tsukiji ($177,000)!!
In the first few days of each new year, the first bluefin tuna sold at the world’s largest fish market – Tsukiji – goes for record prices. This year’s version, bought by a trio of sushi restaurants (two in Tokyo, one in Hong Kong) sold today for $177,000. The three restaurants will split the big fish into thirds and for a week starting tomorrow each will have lines of sushi-lovers lined up around the block waiting to get in. Not because it’s necessarily the best tuna of the year, but the first.
As the Associated Press reports, the 513-pound (233-kilogram) fish was the priciest since 2001 when a 440-pound (200 kilogram) tuna sold for a record 20.2 million yen ($220,000) at Tokyo’s Tsukiji market.
Caught off the coast of northern Japan, the big tuna was among 570 put up for auction Tuesday. About 40 percent of the auctioned fish came from abroad, including from Indonesia and Mexico.
Japan is the world’s biggest consumer of seafood with Japanese eating 80 percent of the Atlantic and Pacific bluefins caught. The two tuna species are the most sought after by sushi lovers. However, tuna consumption in Japan has declined because of a prolonged economic slump as the world’s second-largest economy struggles to shake off its worst recession since World War II.
”Consumers are shying away from eating tuna … We are very worried about the trend,” a market representative told the AP.
Apart from falling demand for tuna, wholesalers are worried about growing calls for tighter fishing rules amid declining tuna stocks.
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas in November slashed the quota for the 2010 catch by about one-third to 13,500 tons (12,250 metric tons) — a move criticized by environmentalists as not going far enough.