Massive Tuna Sells for $323K at 2018’s First Auction in Tokyo

The auction marks the start of Tsukiji fish market’s last year of operation at its present location.

By Ethan L. Johns
January 08, 2018

Image: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

How much would you pay for 892 pounds of bluefin tuna?

Odds are you probably wouldn’t even know where to begin, because who among us would actually buy that much tuna? But on Saturday, at the first bluefin tuna auction of the year at Japan’s Tsukiji fish market, a 405-kilo (892-pound) sea monster sold for a whopping 36.45 million yen ($323,000).

On the first Saturday of the year, at 5 a.m., professional buyers and sellers of the conservationally threatened bluefin gather at Tokyo’s most famous fish market to bid big on the first fish of the year. While this year’s feature fish was certainly shocking in stature and auction price, it is nowhere near the most expensive fish to be sold at the New Year’s auction. In 2013, a 489-pounder was snapped up for a measly $1.76 million, smashing records that have not since been rivaled.

According to Reuters, this year’s blue-ribbon tuna was purchased by Hiroshi Onodera, the president of LEOC Co. Ltd—a restaurant and food service company that owns a high-end omakase sushi chain called Ginza Onodera. He reportedly intends to turn his purchase into 13,000 pieces of sushi.

While global demand for bluefin rises, stocks have declined by 97 percent since the industrial revolution, and while it has not officially been declared endangered, experts believe that it is well on its way to extinction. To deal with this sustainability issue, Japan and other nations have been working together to relieve pressure on stressed populations, are enforcing stricter catch limits and quotas.

The significance of this year’s auction was not lost on bidders, who were aware that it would be Tsukiji fish market’s last in its present location. To make way for new roads in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games, it will be torn down and redeveloped. Curious tourists need not worry, however. The market will be reopened later this year on October 11th in its new location.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns