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Photo: Bluefin tuna sells for record $1.76 million in Japan

Kiyomura Co. president Kiyoshi Kimura with a 222-kg tuna caught off Oma in Aomori prefecture in northeastern Japan. Photo: Shuji Kajiyama / AP.

A bluefin tuna sold for a record $1.76 million at an auction in Tokyo, Japan Saturday, reports the Associated Press.

In the first auction of the 2013 at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market, a 222-kilogram (489-pound) sold for 155.4 million yen, or $3,603 per pound. The total price is nearly three times the previous record of 56.4 million yen, which was set last year. In both cases the top bidder was Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Kiyomura Co., which runs the Sushi-Zanmai restaurant chain.

The first auction of the year is generally viewed as a publicity stunt, with the first fish fetching a price far above the normal market rate. Nonetheless, the rising price of bluefin tuna reflects the increasing scarcity of the species, which environmentalists say is being overfish for Japan’s sushi demand. About 80 percent of the world’s bluefin tuna catch ends up in Japan.

According to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), global bluefin tuna stocks have plunged in recent decades, with the population in the Eastern Atlantic dropping 72 percent and the Western Atlantic 82 percent. The population of the Southern Bluefin is down by roughly 95 percent. Other tuna stocks have also fallen significantly since 1990.

Marine conservationists say rising prices only increase pressure on wild tuna.

The $1.76M tuna
The $1.76M tuna. Photo: Shuji Kajiyama / AP.

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