Hiroshi Onodera, president of the catering group Leoc, won the bidding for the 405kg bluefin tuna © Reuters

What is wonderfully expensive and delicious comes at the cost of extinction for an entire species.

The end of Japan’s famous Tsukiji fish market was sealed with the first opening win by Hiroshi Onodera, President of Leoc, a Japanese catering group that outbid Kiyoshi Kimura, the King of Tuna after seven consecutive years of outbidding everyone for the first fish on the auction.
This much dramatized cultural affair is overshadowed by two unfortunate instances; the first is minor, the Tsukiji fish market is being relocated to a new modern site since the old one has contaminated soil. The second shadow is much more ominous since it represents Japan’s continuous destruction of marine life and the near extinction of the bluefin tuna. Bluefin tuna stocks have depleted by 97%!

The Tsukiji fish market will be replaced by a food theme park, according to Tokyo’s governor Yuriko Koike. The new site for the market, costing $3.5bn to build, has stood empty for over a year. After the move, the tradition will continue, but in a new setting, although wholesaler Yukitaka Yamaguchi said, “I’m going to miss the old Tsukiji but times change, and there’s nothing to be done.”

The fish that cost $323,000 (36.5 million Yen) will provide 13,000 potions at a price of 3,000 yen a portion; this gives the buyer a 2.6 million Yen profit ($23,000). It seems that the ego value of the tradition, where the most expensive first buy goes comes with boasting rights and free PR is definitely worth the price.

Not everyone is happy about the prices of bluefin tuna, in lieu of the depleted numbers, Jamie Gibbon of Pew Charitable Trusts said, “There was hope late last year when governments agreed on a rebuilding plan that could secure the long-term future of the species, but If countries continue to exceed their catch limits, as they have in recent years, the very survival of the species will be threatened.”