World’s Most-Prized Fish Sold for $3.1 Million in Tokyo

So you can nearly understand why Kiyoshi Kimura, owner of the Japanese restaurant chain Sushizanmai, recently chose to purchase a 613-pound, $3.1 million bluefin tuna for his restaurant.

It was bought by Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Sushi Zanmai, a major sushi restaurant chain.

Saturday's event was the first New Year auction of the Toyosu market, after the famed Tsukiji fish market shut last year to provide temporary parking for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. The record price - which equates to about $5,000 a pound - is more than double the previous high set in 2013, according to Masayuki Fukuda, an official in charge of trading operations at the Tokyo market.

Kimora reportedly told Japanese broadcaster NHK that he did not expect the price of the tuna to be so high but "the quality of the tuna I bought is the best". The fish normally sells for up to $40 a pound ($88 a kilogram), but the price rises to over $200 a pound near the year's end, especially for prized catches from Oma in northern Japan. The enormous tuna will translate to more than 12,000 pieces of sushi for the company's Sushi Zanmai chain.

"The tuna looks so tasty and very fresh, but I think I did too much", Mr Kimura said. Experts warn it faces extinction, with stocks of Pacific bluefin depleted by 96 percent from their pre-industrial levels.

Japan is the biggest consumer of the torpedo-shaped bluefin tuna and the national and global demand for the fish has lead to overfishing of the species.

On a normal day a similar sized fish would sell for around $60,000, BBC News' Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports from Tokyok. They are officially listed by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) as an endangered species.

The previous site at Tsukiji opened in 1935 and became the world's biggest fish market and a popular tourist attraction. But a year ago, the owner of a different fish restaurant chain paid the highest price.

The move to Toyosu was repeatedly delayed because of concerns over soil contamination.

  • Eleanor Harrison