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Swank sushi: Bluefin tuna fetches record $736,000 in Tokyo

Kiyoshi Kimurpresident KiyomurCo. left cuts blueftunfront his Sushi Zanmai restaurant near Tsukiji fish market Tokyo Thursday Jan. 5 2012. The

Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Kiyomura Co., left, cuts a bluefin tuna in front of his Sushi Zanmai restaurant near Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012. The bluefin tuna caught off northeastern Japan fetched a record 56.49 million yen, or about $736,000, in the first auction of the year at the fish market. The tuna was caught off Oma in Aomori prefecture and just north of the coast that was battered by the March 11 tsunami. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

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Updated: February 7, 2012 8:18AM



A bluefin tuna caught off northeastern Japan fetched a record price of about $736,000 on Thursday in an auction at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market.

The price for the 593-pound tuna translates to $1,238 per pound — also a record, said Yutaka Hasegawa, a Tsukiji market official.

“It’s superb,” said Kosuke Shimogawara, a 51-year-old customer who tried fatty tuna sushi from the prized fish that was being sold Thursday at a Sushi-Zanmai restaurant in Tsujiki for the equivalent of $5.45 a piece.

Shimogawara pointed out that, if sold at cost, each piece of the sushi could cost as much as $96.

Bluefin tuna is prized for its tender red meat. The best slices of fatty bluefin — called “o-toro” in Japan — can sell for the equivalent of $24 a piece at tony Tokyo sushi bars.

The high price for the record-setting fish has more to do with the celebratory atmosphere that surrounds the first auction of the year at the huge Tokyo market than with its undoubtedly high quality. The winning bidder was Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Kiyomura Co., which operates the Sushi-Zanmai chain. He said he wanted to give Japan a boost after last year’s devastating tsunami “rather than let it get taken overseas.”

The record tuna was caught off Oma, in Aomori prefecture just north of the tsunami-battered coast.

Japanese eat 80 percent of the Atlantic and Pacific bluefins caught — the most sought-after by sushi lovers. But Japanese fishermen face growing calls for tighter fishing rules amid declining tuna stocks worldwide.



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