A massive bluefin tuna sold for more than half a million dollars on Thursday during a famous auction held annually in Japan.
Kiyoshi Kimura, sushi mogul and owner of Kiyomura Co, bought the 467-pound bluefin for 74.2 million yen (about $642,000) during Tsukiji fish market’s first auction of 2017, a widely celebrated event each year in Tokyo.
Kimura’s bid this year is the second highest ever recorded at Tsukiji. The top bid of all time, which also belongs to Kimura, was nearly $1.8 million for a 489-pound bluefin tuna in 2013.
Outrageous bidding prices have become a tradition at Tsukiji, and the higher the bid, the greater the publicity.
Conservationists, however, would encourage Japan to cut back on its extreme tuna consumption. The country is the biggest consumer of bluefin tuna ― an endangered species ― in the world, eating about 80 percent of the bluefin caught worldwide, according to the Associated Press.
A 2016 assessment showed that Pacific bluefin tuna numbers had declined by more than 97 percent from their unfished numbers and had little chance of recovering.
And while the act of spending more than half a million dollars on a single fish is certainly a spectacle, many conservationists worry that the attention-grabbing auctions could contribute to further depletion of bluefin populations.
“We have a pretty significant overfishing problem with bluefin tuna,” Pew Environment Group’s Lee Crockett, who directs Pew’s efforts to end overfishing, told NPR after Tsukiji’s 2012 auction. “When you sell fish for this amount of money, that exacerbates those problems. You can bet fishermen all over the world are going to say, ‘Boy, I’d like to sell fish for that amount of money.’”
Simply put, there’s no denying that current bluefin fishing practices are unsustainable, no matter how much you love sushi.