Wednesday, January 6, 2010


This Tuesday, at a wholesale auction at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, a 512-pound bluefin tuna was sold for over sixteen-million yen ($177,000 USD). The great fish was bought and then shared by the owners of a local sushi restaurant and a Hong Kong-based dining establishment. This tuna is the most expensive fish sold on record since 2001, when a 440-pound tuna was sold for over twenty-million ($220,000) at the very same market.

When asked by local media outlets why he decided to purchase this giant tuna, the Hong Kong restaurateur said, “I want[ed] to make an impact on the Japanese and Hong Kong economies by buying the highest-priced tuna.”

This locally caught tuna was among over two-thousand others bought and sold at this bustling fish market. Japan is the world’s largest consumer of seafood per annum. With tuna being a major staple of their cuisine, the Japanese eat nearly eighty-percent of all commercially caught bluefin.

However, tuna consumption in Japan has declined over recent years due to the change in the spending habits of its people as a result of economic downturns from the most recent recession.

“Consumers are shying away from eating tuna…We are very worried about the trend,” a spokesperson for the Tsukiji market told the Associated Press.

In addition to the lack of demand and declining tuna stocks, fishermen and wholesalers worldwide are worried by the possibility of tighter fishing regulations that will be sanctioned and enforced by the Japanese government. Despite this promise, many environmentalists say that this is not going far enough; they say that the only way to curb the inevitable extinction of the Pacific bluefin tuna is to initiate a trade ban on the fish altogether.