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Endangered Tuna Sold For £2.5 Million In Japanese Auction

Endangered Tuna Sold For £2.5 Million In Japanese Auction

An endangered bluefin tuna was sold for £2.5 million ($3.1 million) in the first auction this year of Japan's new fish market.

The Tokyo market replaced the world-famous Tsukiji late last year and sold off 278 kg fish (612 pounds) to well-known sushi tycoon Kiyoshi Kimura, who runs the popular Sushi Zanmai chain.

Tokyo Fish Market. Credit; PA
Tokyo Fish Market. Credit; PA

Kimura has been a frequent visitor to the markets and for the past few years has been the winner of the annual auction.

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Japan is one of the biggest consumers of the bluefin tuna but overfishing of the creature has seen a 96 percent depletion of stocks from seas since pre-industrial times.

This depletion could be one of the reasons the price of the tuna has gone up significantly - in previous years the fish has sold for £31 ($40) per pound, but this year's prices soared above £157 ($200) a pound.

The rise in price was even noted by the auction winner and sushi-tycoon, Kimura when he was interviewed by the Japanese broadcaster NHK.

Tokyo Fish Market. Credit; PA
Tokyo Fish Market. Credit; PA
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While speaking to them, he commented on the high price of tuna in the last year, but added: "The quality of the tuna I bought is the best."

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Jamie Gibbon, associate manager for global tuna conservation at The Pew Charitable Trusts, said the celebration around the auction is 'deeply troubling'.

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He told The Guardian: "The celebration surrounding the annual Pacific bluefin auction hides how deeply in trouble this species really is."

This isn't the only worrying issue relating to overfishing by the Japanese.

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Concerns arose at the end of 2018 when the country announced its decision to pull out from the International Whale Commission - the governing body set up to help whale conservation - as they say eating whale is part of the country's culture.

Tokyo Fish Market. Credit; PA
Tokyo Fish Market. Credit; PA

Japan's had been part of the IWC since 1951 and commercial whaling has been banned since 1986 - a time when the number of some species of whale had dropped so low, they were on the brink of extinction.

The announcement spiked fears among conservationists that certain whales, such as minke whales, that are protected by the IWC will now be at risk of being freely hunted by the Japanese.

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It has been reported that anywhere between 200 and 1,200 of the animals are caught by the country's whalers each year to 'investigate stock levels to see whether the whales are endangered or not' but some accuse them of using this as a cover for commercial whaling.

Japan has accused the IWC of losing its original aim and wants it to go back to committing to the goal of supporting sustainable commercial whaling, not just conserving the number of whales.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: World News, Animals, Japan

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Rachael Grealish

Rachael is a NCTJ qualified journalist from West Cumbria, with a passion for news, features and journalism. Outside of work Rachael loves plenty of coffee, running and reading.