bluefin tuna

A deep-pocketed restaurateur shelled out nearly $750,000 for a tuna at Japan’s Tsukiji fish market on Thursday, smashing the record price for a single bluefin.

The 269-kilogramme fish stood at an eye-popping 56.49 million yen ($736,500) when the hammer came down in the first auction of the year.

The figure dwarfs the previous high of 32.49 million yen paid at last year’s inaugural auction at Tsukiji, a huge working market in Tokyo.

Thursday’s winning bidder was Kiyoshi Kimura, president of the company that runs the popular Sushi-Zanmai chain.

At around 210,000 yen per kilogramme, a single slice of sushi could cost as much as 5,000 yen, but the firm plans to sell it at a more regular price of up to 418 yen.

“The flesh is coloured in magnificent red and the quality of fat is very good,” Kimura said. “It is very delicious. The taste is unbeatable.”

Japan consumes three-quarters of the global catch of bluefin, a highly prized sushi ingredient known in Japan as “kuro maguro” (black tuna).

Decades of overfishing have seen global tuna stocks crash, leading some Western nations to call for a ban on catching endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna.