TOKYO » A giant bluefin tuna fetched a record 32.49 million yen, or nearly $396,000, in Tokyo today, in the first auction of the year at the world’s largest wholesale fish market.
The price for the 754-pound tuna beat the previous record, set in 2001 when a 445-pound fish sold for 20.2 million yen, a spokesman for Tsukiji market said.
"It was an exceptionally large fish," said the official, Yutaka Hasegawa. "But we were all surprised by the price."
The massive tuna was bought and shared by the same duo that won the bidding for last year’s top fish: the owners of Kyubey, an upscale sushi restaurant in Tokyo’s Ginza district, and Itamae Sushi, a casual, Hong Kong-based chain.
Reporters thronged Hong Kong entrepreneur Ricky Cheng after his big win, which reflects the growing popularity of sushi around the world, particularly in Asia.
Japan is the world’s biggest consumer of seafood, with Japanese eating 80 percent of the Atlantic and Pacific bluefins — the species most sought by sushi lovers — caught. Japanese wholesalers, however, face growing calls for tighter fishing rules amid declining tuna stocks worldwide.