It was the first auction of fish in the New Year at Tokyo fish market and a huge bluefin tuna fetched an astronomical sum equivalent to $3.1 million. Kiyoshi Kimura, the owner of a famous restaurant chain in the city was the lucky bidder and he outbid the previous year’s rival. The price was much more than last year’s auction when the size of the fish was smaller. However, this practice of catching and selling off these fish is depleting available stocks. This will lead to a scarcity and a bleak future for those who relish them.

Washington Post reports the winner expressed satisfaction at the quality of the bluefin tuna and admitted that the price he paid was on the higher side.

In his opinion, “the tuna looks so tasty and very fresh” and he went on to add that his customers would be able to taste it later that day. These fish are delicious and are preferred in sushi restaurants, but overfishing has resulted in dwindling stocks.

Bluefin tuna are an endangered species

Jamie Gibbon, an official of global tuna conservation explains the alarming situation. The population of bluefin tuna has plummeted to “less than 3.5 percent of its historic size and overfishing still continues today.” This particular fish was from the coast of northern Japan’s Aomori prefecture. This area is home to the best quality fish and local fishermen take care to land the catch by using traditional manual fishing methods.

Incidentally, the IUCN Red List identifies these fish as belonging to the growing numbers of endangered species.

The authorities have taken steps to protect the bluefin tuna because of the growing scarcity.

In 2017, Japan and other governments arrived at an agreement to control quotas and enforce restrictions on fishing in order to rebuild stocks by 2034. The fish can be huge with a maximum length of nearly 10 feet and a maximum weight of 1,200 lbs. Fishermen, from not only Japan but also South Korea and Mexico, resort to catching them before they reach maturity.

This, in turn, affects their availability.

Those who relish bluefin tuna must protect them

According to CNN, Kiyoshi Kimura who owns a chain of sushi restaurants, paid an exorbitant price to buy the bluefin tuna that weighed more than 600 pounds. By his own admission, he paid nearly five times the normal amount in the New Year's auction at a fish market in Tokyo. It was at Toyosu, a new location. The previous one at Tsukiji held the distinction of being the biggest fish and seafood market in the world and was a popular travel destination but it closed in October. Incidentally, the city of Tokyo is one of the best cities in the world.

The Japanese love their sushi but they will have to forget the delicacy if there are no bluefin tuna around – hence, there is a need to protect the existing stock.