record bluefin tuna sale is TRAGIC
Earlier this month, the record price for bluefin tuna was shattered in the first auction of the year at Tokyo’s famous Tsujiki market. The winning bid was 56.49 million yen, or about $736,000, for the 593 pound fish caught off the Northern coast of Japan. That works out to over $1200 per pound.
This is not because the competition has increased since December auctions, or because the quality of this fish was better than past trophy specimens. This was a symbolic bid, in the highly symbolic first auction of the new year.
Everything to do with New Years has symbolism, and the lucky winning auction of tuna presumably bodes well for the coming year for the tuna’s new owner, their business and for Japan in general.
Kiyoshi Kimura, who owns a chain of sushi bars in Japan, said he bought the tuna to help Japan recover from last year’s devastating natural disasters. But the environmentally conscious around the world were not heartened by the news, although this is just a continuation of a trend that appears to have long legs. He should’ve stuck to the $100k tuna and donated a half million to people who lost everything in the tsunami.
Bluefin tuna are in dire straights, with numbers down dramatically from the late twentieth century, when they began to be seriously over fished. Bluefin stocks are dwindling, and Japan consumes 75-80% of the world’s bluefin tuna catch.
Anyone who has heard of the law of supply and demand will agree that rising prices for bluefin tuna are not only inevitable, but bound to continue unless there is a drastic shift downward in the number of catches. We should not be surprised if, before the end of this year, a bluefin tuna is sold for a price in excess of one million dollars.
That is the terrible dilemna! The more bluefin tuna stocks are diminished, the more valuable the remaining ones are. And the more valuable the catch, the more effort goes into catching the last remaining ones. Even today, huge new tuna vessels are being built.
What’s that? No, not much you can do, except refrain from eating this species which should rightfully be declared “endangered” so it can receive protection from those who would take the last one from the ocean to cash in on it’s great monetary value. Aside from that, education is what you can offer.
Tell your friends not to eat bluefin, pressure popular sushi bars that insist on serving bluefin (Nobu comes to mind) and always ask your sushi chef where his tuna comes from. Line-caught yellowfin, or albacore tuna is what you should seek in your favorite sushi bar. Download the Seafood Watch app from Monterey Bay Aquarium here and make informed decisions about seafood.