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Pacific Bluefin Tuna Fetches $632,000 at Auction in Japanese Fish Market

Species is regarded as Vulnerable and Overfished, but is important in Japan


January 9, 2017

Wikimedia Commons

Pacific Bluefin Tuna at Japanese Aquarium

A Japanese sushi chain owner bid a winning 74.2 million yen ($632,000) for a 212 kilogram (466 pound) bluefin tuna in the final auction at the current site of Tokyo's Tsukiji market, since the market is supposed to move.

The Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) is a predatory species of tuna found widely in the northern Pacific Ocean, but it is migratory and also recorded as a visitor to the south Pacific.

In the past it was often included in T. thynnus, the 'combined' species then known as the northern bluefin tuna (when treated as separate, T. thynnus is called the Atlantic bluefin tuna). It may reach 9.8 ft and 990 LBS.

Like the closely related Atlantic bluefin and southern bluefin, the Pacific bluefin is a commercially valuable species and several thousand tonnes are caught each year, making it overfished.It is considered threatened by the IUCN and PEW.

Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program have placed all bluefin tunas on the "Avoid" list, and they are also placed on the "Red List" by Greenpeace and the Blue Ocean Institute.

According to the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-Like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC) who assessed the stock in 2011 and 2014, Pacific bluefin tuna populations are at 4% what they would be if fishing had never occurred.

The winning bid Thursday for the prized but overfished species was the second highest ever after a record 155.4 million yen bid in 2013, reports the Associated Press.

Tomohiro Ohsumi, Getty Images

Kiyomura K.K. President Kiyoshi Kimura, poses with a fresh bluefin tuna after the year's first auction at Tsukiji Market on January 5, 2016 in Tokyo.

Kiyomura Corp. owner Kiyoshi Kimura posed after the predawn New Year auction with the silvery tuna, which was caught off the coast of northern Japan's Aomori prefecture. Kimura often wins the annual auction.

About 80% of the Pacific and Atlantic bluefin tunas are consumed in Japan, and tunas that are particular suited for sashimi and sushi can command very high prices.

In Japan, some foods made available for the first time of the year are considered good luck, especially bluefin tuna. Winning these new year auctions is often used as a way to get publicity, which raises the prices considerably higher than their market value: on January 5, 2013, a 489-pound (222 kg) Pacific bluefin tuna caught off northeastern Japan was sold in the first auction of the year at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo for a record 155.4 million yen (US$1.76 million) – leading to record unit prices of $3,603 per pound, or ¥ 703,167 per kilogram.


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