Winning bidder Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Kiyomura Co. , poses with a bluefin tuna in front of his Sushi-Zanmai restaurant near Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. The bluefin tuna caught off northeastern Japan fetched a record 155.40 million yen, or about $1,763,000, in the first auction of the year at the fish market. The tuna was caught off Oma in Aomori prefecture. (AP)
A bluefin tuna sold for a record $1.76 million at a Tokyo auction Saturday, blasting last year's record of $736,000 out of the water.
The 489-pound fish caught off northeastern Japan fetched 155.4 million yen at the first auction of the year at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market. That works out to about $3,603 per pound of the glistening pink and red meat.
Winning bidder Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Kiyomura Co., which operates sushi restaurant chain Sushi-Zanmai, acknowledged to a Japanese news agency that "the price was a bit high," but said he wanted to "encourage Japan." The Japanese eat 80 percent of the bluefin tuna caught worldwide, according to the Associated Press.
Kimura, who set last year's tuna auction record as well, served the fish to his customers later in the day.
Kimura slices up the 489-pound bluefin tuna he purchased at record price to serve his customers. (Getty Images)
Environmentalists say stocks of bluefin tuna are on a dangerous decline due to overfishing to meet sushi demand.
"Everything we're hearing is that there's no good news for the Pacific Bluefin [species]," Amanda Nickson, director of the Washington-based Pew Environmental Group's global tuna conservation campaign, told the AP. "We're seeing a very high value fish continue to be overfished."
A block of meat from a 489-pound bluefin tuna, purchased earlier in the day for a record price, is sliced up for customers at sushi restaurant Sushi-Zanmai near Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market on Jan. 5, 2013. (Getty Images)
A customer selects a piece of fat tuna sushi made from a 489-pound bluefin tuna, purchased earlier in the day for a record price and sliced up for customers at sushi restaurant Sushi-Zanmai near Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market on Jan. 5, 2013. (Getty Images)