Sushi boss wins Tsukiji tuna auction at giant discount


Sushi chain operator Kiyoshi Kimura netted a real bargain Sunday, taking home a 230-kg bluefin tuna for a mere ¥7.36 million, a fraction of the price he paid last year during the year’s first auction at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.

The auction attracts high bids as a celebratory way to launch the new year, but Kimura’s winning bid last year of ¥155.4 million for a 222-kg fish drew complaints that prices were way out of line.

“I’m glad that the congratulatory price for this year’s bid went back to being reasonable,” said Kimura, whose Kiyomura Co. operates the popular Sushi Zanmai restaurant chain.

Environmentalists say growing consumption of bluefin tuna is leading to its depletion. Japanese eat about 80 percent of all bluefin caught worldwide.

There were 1,729 tuna sold in Sunday’s auction, city data said, down from 2,419 last year.

  • Guest

    Would it be possible to breed this valuable fish in captivity ?

    • Scott Reynolds

      Yes, but you need a REALLY big tank.

    • James

      Good question. To me it seems it would be possible. There’s a whale in the aquarium at Osaka, much larger than this one so by all means it seems possible.

      • Scott Reynolds

        Ah, but capturing an adult whale and then putting it into a tank is quite different from breeding whales in captivity, Also, whales are mammals that give birth to life young. Quite different from fish.

        There have been various attempts to “farm” tuna, as the other comments allude to. One article I read about it a while back said that the quality of the farmed tuna was inferior to that of wild tuna. I have no way of knowing if that is true, or if it simply reflects the Japanese prejudice against farmed fish in general.

      • James

        I’m inclined to be prejudiced as well then. Think of free-range poultry vs. hens living in enclosures like packed sardines in a can.

    • Franz Pichler

      Yes, they can be “farmed”, actually they’re farmed as we speak, but it’s not “real” aquafarming” cause it’s still not (economically) possible to close the cycle 100% meaning small fish have to be rounded up in big nets and are than fattened and prepared for slaughter. We import anchovies in oil and the price of this little fish has skyrocketed because in the Mediterranean anchovies are fed to tuna…. also because of this “farming” of the tuna species that are fed to the tunas are totally over fished! Another major problem is that these fish will never reach sexual maturity so stocks in the wild are dwindling as fast as ever. One can only hope that science finds quickly a viable (economical) way to make tuna spore in captivity…

    • Michael Williams

      A gentlemen in Australia has successfully spawned bluefin tuna by replicating the conditions in which they spawn. The fish were wild caught, however, to my knowledge he has raised fingerlings.

      They are looking to either develop this capability into raising ‘farm tuna’. I think they would be far more successful using this technique to raise fingerlings in massive numbers and release them into the oceans at their natural spawn points, try to reinforce their numbers through stocking.