During the first Tsukiji market tuna auction of the year in Tokyo on Sunday, a 230-kilogram (507-pound) piece of bluefin tuna sold for 7.36 million yen ($70,000). That may seem like a lot of money for a fish, but the price is far less than expected for a species considered to be nearing extinction.
Kiyoshi Kimura, who operates a chain of sushi restaurants in Japan, won the auction, but paid 155.4 million yen last year for a smaller fish.
“I’m glad that the congratulatory price for this year’s bid went back to being reasonable,” Kimura told the New York Times.
The price per kilogram for bluefin tuna at the auction dropped from 700,000 yen last year to 32,000 yen per kilogram. The number of tuna sold also decreased from 2,419 to 1,729.
Overfishing has caused the stocks of Pacific, Southern and Atlantic bluefin species to experience a 15-year decline. More than 90% of the fish are caught before they reach reproductive age, and the population is less than 4% of what it would be without fishing.
About 80% of the bluefin tuna caught worldwide is consumed in Japan.
Want more food news? Follow me on Twitter: @Jenn_Harris_