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Blue Fin Tuna

January 5, 2012 by staff 

Blue Fin TunaBlue Fin Tuna, Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Kiyomura Co., left, cuts a bluefin tuna in front of his Sushi Zanmai restaurant near Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012. The bluefin tuna caught off northeastern Japan fetched a record 56.49 million yen, or about $736,000, in the first auction of the year at the fish market.
Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji market rang in the first auction of 2012 with a record sale when a local sushi company bought a 593-pound bluefin tuna for over $740,000. Weighing in at roughly $1,247 a pound, that’s the most expensive tuna ever sold at Japan’s largest wholesale fish market, or anywhere else for that matter, beating last year’s high price by over $260,ooo.

The giant was caught in Oma in Japan’s northern Aomori prefecture, one of the areas hit in last year’s earthquake and tsunami. It’s also one of Japan’s most important fishing zones. Fishermen up and down the coast of northeast Japan have been struggling since many of their boats were swept to sea and the ports and markets were destroyed in the disasters.

In the past, Japan’s record-breaking tunas have been coveted by foreign companies. (Last year’s went in part to Hong Kong). But this year the winning bid went to Tokyo-based Kiyomura Co. Owner Kioshi Kimura told the Wall Street Journal that he wanted the fish to deliver a boost of umami morale for Japan. “Rather than having it taken away overseas, I wish for Japanese people to eat good tuna together. Despite the March 11 earthquake and the sluggish economy I want to lift up Japan’s spirits urging people to work hard together,” he said.

If any fish could do that, bluefin could. The nation consumes 80% of the world’s catch of bluefin tuna, an enormous, long-living and slow-maturing predator loved for its rich, fatty meat and whose various populations are becoming more and more depleted around the world. Though a lot of the tuna eaten in Japan now comes from the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, Japan has its own local population off the northeast coast whose catch props up many small, seaside towns like Oma.

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