The Most Expensive Tuna in the World
Japan has started year 2011 with a blast: a 342-kilogram bluefin tuna (from Toi, Hokkaido) was sold for a record-breaking 32.49 million yen, or nearly $396,000, at Tsukiji market in Tokyo. This is the most expensive price ever paid for tuna fish in the history of Japan's customary new year fish auctions (i.e. celebratory market or shugi soba) in the world's largest wholesale fish market.
Ricky Cheng won the bid. He is the owner of the Itamae Sushi chain, part of Hong Kong’s Taste of Japan Group. When asked why he bought the bluefin tuna knowing the uncertainty of profit, he replied: “We wanted to get it for good luck, even if we lose money.” Environmentalists unanimously disbelieved Mr. Cheng, knowing that the businessman had teamed up with a renowned sushi bar, Kyubey, whose clients range from gizmo moguls to hollywood magnates. This hefty purchase of the bluefin tuna seemed like another advertising tactic.
During the Washington Convention (or Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in Qatar last March 2010, conservationists proposed to forbid the overfishing of tuna, especially bluefin tuna, to preserve their breeding stock. Their voices unfortunately failed to be heard largely due to influential sushi lovers-members of the convention and increasing demand for gourmet fish and Japanese seafood cuisine worldwide amidst recession.