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Bluefin tuna prices take a dive as demand continues to threaten species

Bluefin tuna prices took a dive on the Tokyo fish market.
Bluefin tuna prices took a dive on the Tokyo fish market.

Bluefin tuna prices took a huge dive at Tokyo’s famous fish market on Sunday even as demand for the bluefin increases among waning numbers and growing environmental concerns, the Christian Science Monitor reported Jan. 6.

The bluefin tuna that was the first to be sold in this year’s Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo went for only $70,000. The winning bidder of the 507-pound bluefin tuna was once again Kiyoshi Kimura, a well-known Sushi restaurateur in Japan who has won the opening bids in at least the two previous years as well.

The first bluefin tuna sold at the fish market usually goes for an extremely inflated price to mark the celebratory nature of the opening day, the New York Times noted. But this year’s lower bluefin tuna price was just 5 percent of what Kimura paid last year for a nearly 600-pound tuna.

The bluefin tuna has achieved great public awareness in recent years, probably thanks due at least in part to the reality television series “Wicked Tuna.”

With that notoriety has come increasing concerns about the fate of the bluefin tuna, which is considered a sushi delicacy. The Japanese consume about 80 percent of the bluefin tuna harvested, the Times said.

According to Oceana, bluefin tuna are the most valuable fish in the world, prized for their fatty belly meat, which drives up competition for the bluefin. Oceana says that according to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) estimates that as few as 25,000 individual mature bluefin tuna remain.

Environmentalists are concerned that increasing worldwide consumption of bluefin tuna is leading to drastically reduced numbers of the massive fish as fisheries fail to take protective actions.

There are actually three species of bluefin tuna — the Pacific, Southern and Atlantic —and numbers of all three have fallen in the past 15 years, due in part to illegal fishing and lax enforcement of quotas.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, bluefin tuna are the largest tuna and can live up to 40 years.

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