Record price has no relationship to bluefin tuna conservation

The record price of USD1.76 million paid for one 222 kilo Pacific bluefin tuna during the New Year's first auction at Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo has captured the world's attention. However, the price paid for this single tuna has no relationship whatsoever to the market price for bluefin tuna in Japan or the current biological status of bluefin tuna resources.

The first auction of the year at Tsukiji fish market, the largest in the world, brings higher bidding as a traditional business ceremony in the fisheries industr y circle to celebrate the New Year. In our view, however, such record price this year was brought about by a sense of national pride by the winning Japanese bidder who is the owner of a Japanese restaurant chain. The competing bidder is the owner of a Hong Kong sushi restaurant chain. Reportedly, once the bidding, which started at a much lower level, began to exceed each other's expectations, neither could give up easily. Thus, the hard bidding occurred. Our view may be confirmed by a statement of the winning Japanese owner of the restaurant chain who provided the tuna sushi at a regular cheap price saying, "The tuna was harvested off the Japanese coast. One piece for each one guest so that many Japanese people can share the happiness".

Fish is a major food for the Japanese people and tuna is one of the popular fish because it is historically consumed as traditional sushi and sashimi cuisine. Naturally, the Japanese people want the sustainable use of tuna resources and therefore support their conservation and management by regional tuna fisheries management organizations established for all the oceans because of the highly migratory nature of tunas.