Tuna fetches $614000 at Tokyo's famed New Year's fish auction

Kiyoshi Kimura

Kiyoshi Kimura

Kiyomura Corp. owner Kiyoshi Kimura posed, beaming, after the predawn New Year auction with the gleaming, man-sized fish, which was caught off the coast of northern Japan's Aomori prefecture.

The eye-popping amount paid for a tuna fish Thursday is the second largest since 1999 when such data began to be recorded in Japan.

A Japanese sushi chain boss has bid a winning 74.2 million yen - or about $849,000 Canadian - for a 212-kilogram bluefin tuna in what may be the last auction at the current site of Tokyo's Tsukiji market.

The victor of the auction is Kiyomura Corp., the operator of the Sushizanmai sushi restaurant chain.

The winning bid for the first tuna on the market a year ago was just 14 million yen.

A $600,000 price tag may seem mighty high for just one giant bluefin tuna.

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Despite the celebratory nature of these fish auctions, the Pacific bluefin tuna is in peril.

Kiyomura K.K. President Kiyoshi Kimura, poses with a fresh bluefin tuna after the year's first auction at Tsukiji Market on January 5, 2016 in Tokyo.

The Japanese continue to be the biggest consumers of bluefin tuna, a species that many environmental experts say could go extinct due to extreme overfishing.

Conservation groups are calling for a moratorium on commercial fishing of the species because of numbers falling to dangerously low levels.

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission tightened global limits in 2015 as the species remained under threat, halving the catch of bluefin tuna under 30 kilograms from the average caught between 2002 and 2004.

Conservationists argue part of the problem is that when fisheries catch Pacific bluefin tuna, they're mostly catching juveniles who have not yet reached the age of reproduction.