Japan new year tuna sale sets price record

By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Tokyo

Image caption,
A Tokyo restaurant and a Hong Kong sushi bar bid jointly for the tuna

A tuna has sold at auction for a record 32.49m yen in Tokyo, nearly $400,000 (£257,320).

The fish was a blue fin, a variety prized for making the finest sushi. It was bought by a joint Japanese and Chinese bid.

The first auction in January at Tokyo's Tsukji fish market is a cherished part of Japan's New Year celebrations, and record prices are often set.

Japan is the world's biggest consumer of seafood.

After bells rang at 0500 local time (2000 GMT on Tuesday) to start the sale, bidding was brisk.

More than 500 fish were laid out on pallets on the concrete floor.

But the lot that attracted the most interest was a giant 342kg blue fin tuna caught off Japan's northern island of Hokkaido.

The winning bid was made jointly by the owners of a restaurant in Tokyo's upmarket Ginza district, and a sushi chain in Hong Kong.

Restrictions on catches have been tightened in recent years because of concerns about overfishing.

Traders at Tsukiji market say growing Chinese demand for sushi is also helping to push up prices.

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