Bluefin tuna sells for £2.5m world record at Tokyo fish market

Wholesalers checking frozen tuna lined up in rows ahead of the new year's first auction at the Toyosu Market in Tokyo on Jan 5 2019

So you can nearly understand why Kiyoshi Kimura, owner of the Japanese restaurant chain Sushizanmai, recently chose to purchase a 613-pound, $3.1 million bluefin tuna for his restaurant.

He spent more than twice the previous record of £1.1 million, which he paid in 2013.

It was bought by Kiyomura Corporation, whose owner Kiyoshi Kimura runs the Sushi Zanmai chain, the report said.

Saturday's event was the first New Year auction of the Toyosu market, after the famed Tsukiji fish market shut last year to provide temporary parking for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

Self-styled "Tuna King" Kiyoshi Kimura bought the 278kg (612lbs) bluefin tuna, which is an endangered species. The huge tuna will translate to more than 12,000 pieces of sushi for the company's Sushi Zanmai chain.

Kiyoshi Kimura, who owns the Sushizanmai chain, paid 333.6 million yen ($3.1 million) for the 278-kg fish caught off the coast of northern Japan's Aomori prefecture, or double what he had paid 6 years ago.

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"The tuna looks so tasty and very fresh, but I think I did (pay) a little too much", Kimura told reporters outside the Tokyo market, according to Reuters.

Surging consumption of the Pacific bluefin tuna in Japan and overseas has led experts to warn it faces possible extinction, with stocks depleting by 96 percent from pre-industrial levels.

In previous years, the market was held at Tsukiji, which was the world's biggest fish market and a popular tourist attraction in an area packed with restaurants and shops.

In 2018, catches off the coast of Japan were significantly down, and since the middle of past year prices in Tokyo have climbed by more than 40 percent.

However issues including concerns about outdated fire regulations and hygiene controls prompted the market to be moved to a larger and more modern site.

There are signs of progress toward protecting the bluefin, and Japan and other governments have backed plans to rebuild Pacific bluefin stocks, with a target of 20% of historic levels by 2034.

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