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Giant 600 pound tuna sells for record $ 3 million on Tokyo market

Kiyomura Corp. owner Kiyoshi Kimura, left, stands near the blue wine fish which he made a wining bid on the annual New Year's auction, in Tokyo on Saturday, January 5, 201[ads1]9. The 612 pounds (278 kilos) of bluefin tuna sold for a record $ 333.6 million ($ 3 million) in the first auction in 2019, after Tokyo's famous Tsukiji market moved to a new location in the city's port area. (Koki Sengoku / Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO (AP) – A 612 pound (278 kilo) blue wine fish sold for a record 333.6 million yen ($ 3 million) in the first auction in 2019, after Tokyo's famous Tsukiji The market was moved to a new site on the city's waterfront.

The winning bid for the valued but endangered species on the previous auction Saturday was more than twice the new annual auction in 2013.

It was paid by Kiyomura Corp. , whose owner Kiyoshi Kimura runs the Sushi Zanmai chain. Kimura has often won the annual auction in the past.

Japanese broadcaster NHK showed a brilliant Kimura who said he was surprised at the high price of tuna this year. But he added, "The quality of the tuna I bought is the best."

Auction prices are far more common for regular tuna. The fish usually sells up to $ 40 per kilogram, but the price rises to over $ 200 a pound near the end of the year, especially for precious catches from Oma in northern Japan.

Last year's auction was the last one at Tsukiji before the market moved to a new facility on a former gas plant at Tokyo Bay. The move was delayed repeatedly due to concerns over soil contamination.

Japanese are the largest consumers of torpedo-shaped bluefish, and increasing consumption here and abroad has led to overfishing of the species. Experts warn that it is facing possible extinction, with stocks of the Pacific blown out by 96 percent from their pre-industrial levels.

"The celebration around the annual Pacific Bluefin auction hides how deep in trouble this species really is," said Jamie Gibbon, associate leader of global tuna conservation at The Pew Charitable Trusts.

There are signs of progress towards protecting bluefin, and Japan and other governments have supported plans to rebuild Pacific Bluefin stocks, targeting 20 percent of historical levels by 2034.

Decades old Tsukiji was one of Japan's most popular tourist destinations, as well as the world's largest fish market. The new market opened in October. A few companies lived in Tsukiji, but almost all 500 plus wholesalers and other businesses switched to Toyosu.

Tsukiji will be rebuilt, but for now it will be converted into a parking lot for the Tokyo Olympic Games by 2020. [19659013]

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