Published: Fri, January 06, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Bluefin tuna nets 74 million yen at Tsukiji's New Year auction

And to the victor go the spoils: a 466-pound Pacific bluefin tuna, which ultimately cost Kimura 74.2 million yen - or about $632,000. One tuna, in particular, weighing it at just over 467 pounds, brought it more than $642,000 during the first auction of the year.

Kiyoshi Kimura, who runs a chain of sushi restaurants Sushi Zanmai, poses with a $632,000 bluefin tuna in Tokyo, Japan, January 5, 2017.

However, the high price and active biding this year hints at a return of economic optimism in Japan, which has been fighting a dogged battle with deflation over the years. In 2013, his bid of 155.4 million yen for a 222-kilogram fish is the highest on record.

Bluefin tuna is in high demand, as its population went from 4.2 percent of its "unfished" size in to 2.6 percent a year ago, NBC News noted.

"We could get a tuna that is good in all aspects - shape, size, fat and the quality of meat", Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Kiyomura, said.

"I want everyone to taste this delicious tuna", he said as he posed with his prize bluefin, the newspaper reported.

In fact, he has placed the winning bid for every bluefin tuna sold at the annual Tsukiji market fish auction for the past six years in a row.

"If fishing continues at its current rate, then Pacific bluefin stocks will fall to levels that are commercially unsustainable, but Japanese officials continue to say that catch reductions will place too big a burden on fishermen", Jamie Gibbon, officer for global tuna conservation at the Pew Charitable Trusts, told the Guardian.

Pew and a dozen other environmental groups have called for a two-year moratorium on commercial fishing of the species.

The outlook for bluefin tuna, considered the king of sushi, is also uncertain.

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