A single bluefin tuna has sold at auction for a new record price of 32.49 million yen, or nearly $396,000, in Tokyo.
The price for the 754-pound (342-kilogram) tuna beat the previous record set in 2001 when a 445-pound (202-kilogram) fish sold for 20.2 million yen, said a spokesman for Tsukiji market, the world's largest wholesale fish market.
The record-setting price — paid jointly by the owners of Kyubey, an upscale sushi restaurant in Tokyo's Ginza district, and Hong Kong-based chain Itamae Sushi, who will share the fish — translates to about $526 per pound.
The giant tuna, caught off the coast of Hokkaido, northern Japan, was among 538 shipped in from around the world for Wednesday's auction.
Japanese wholesalers face growing calls for tighter fishing rules amid declining tuna stocks worldwide.
In November, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas voted to cut the bluefin fishing quota in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean from 13,500 to 12,900 metric tons annually — about a 4 percent reduction, according to the Associated Press. It also agreed on measures to try to improve enforcement of quotas on bluefin. The decision was strongly criticized by environmental groups, which hoped to see bluefin fishing slashed or suspended.
Treehugger.com wrote Wednesday that while the particular fish sold at the Tokyo auction, the season's first, wasn't one from the critically endangered Atlantic sub-species, the sale to show the huge amount of money at stake.
It said the carmaker Mitsubishi stood to make billions of dollars when the fish went extinct, due to its extensive stockpiles of frozen bluefin.
Japan is the world's biggest consumer of seafood, with Japanese eating 80 percent of the Atlantic and Pacific bluefins caught.