With $736,000, some people would buy a helicopter. Or a small Beverly Hills home. Or 150 Rolex watches. But with his six figures, Kiyoshi Kimura picked up a single frozen tuna.
Specifically, a 593-pound bluefin sold during the first auction of the year at Japan’s Tsukiji fish market, which will go to feed customers at Kimura’s Tokyo-based Sushi-Zanmai sushi chain, according to the Associated Press.
The price busted past Tsukiji's record of $421,000, paid last year by a Hong Kong bidder. Kimura ended up shelling out about $1,238 per pound for the bluefin, which will be steeply discounted for diners.
To some, the record price and native buyer is a sign that Japan is bouncing back from a devastating earthquake and tsunami last year. The tuna was caught off the country’s northeastern shores in a region hit particularly hard by the disaster.
To others, particularly environmentalists concerned about overfishing, the high-stakes auction glorifies a tradition that could end up depleting the world’s fish populations.
In the U.S., bluefin can be a tricky topic for sellers. At SBE’s Katsuya Japanese restaurants across the Southland, bluefin is missing from menus. Grocery chains such as Whole Foods Market no longer sell bluefin or other vulnerable seafood species. Wal-Mart has pledged to source its fish sustainably.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this year decided not to list Atlantic bluefin tuna under the Endangered Species Act, instead naming it a “species of concern.”