The owner of the Sushizanmai restaurant chain on Thursday, January 5, paid the biggest price for a single fish, dolling out over...... $600,000 for a Pacific bluefin tuna which was auctioned at Tokyo's famed Tsukiji fish market.
For the sixth straight year, Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Kiyomura Corp., which owns the Sushizanmai chain, had the winning bid, paying 72 million yen ($614,000) for a 212 kilogram (467 pound) Pacific bluefin tuna -- a species experts warn is being overfished.
That was well above last year's winning bid of 14 million yen, but half the record 155 million yen paid in 2013.
Afterward, Kimura posed with a sword-like knife in front of the big, dark-silvery fish, caught off the coast of northern Japan.
The world's largest fish market was supposed to be relocated last November to make way for a road needed for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but was delayed due to environmental concerns.
The delay allowed for Tsukiji to hold at least one more New Year's auction, which is considered auspicious and a great way for the winning bidder to gain some publicity.
Reuters reports that Tokyo government wants to move the 80-year-old Tsukiji market, set on prime real estate on Tokyo Bay not far from the posh Ginza shopping district, to a manmade island called Toyosu located two km (1.24 miles) away.
But the plan was delayed after concerns emerged about toxic pollution at its proposed new home, where a gas plant once stood.
The outlook for bluefin tuna, considered the king of sushi, is also uncertain.
Global appetite for sushi has driven numbers of the species to dangerously low levels. Scientific assessments completed in July showed that the number of Pacific bluefin has fallen to just 2.6 percent of its original estimated size.