Bluefin Tuna sold for Rs 2 crore in Japan; Here’s why it’s so expensive

A Bluefin Tuna was sold for more than Rs 2 crore at a New Year’s auction in Japan on 5 January. The first sale of the year more than doubled last year’s price. In Japan, Bluefin Tuna is a delicacy that is in season during winter when it accumulates fat. The calls Bluefin Tuna the world’s ‘most prized and valuable fish’.

This particular fish, which weighed 212 kilos, was caught off Oma in northern Aomori prefecture, as per Bloomberg.  Though it comes from Oma, the Bluefin Tuna isn’t even average size.

As per, there are two different types of BlueFin Tuna – Pacific Bluefin Tuna and Atlantic Bluefin Tuna. Of all the tuna species, these are the largest – they can get as big as four metres and weigh around 600 kilos. The website says when these fish are growing they are called “meji” or “yokowa” – and are eaten as thinly sliced raw fish.

Decades ago, Bluefin Tuna were known as ‘trash fish’ – being sent to landfills, mashed up into pet food or simply cast back into the ocean, as per the Smithsonian website. That all changed for Japan in the 1970s. Demand for Bluefish Tuna increased after beef gained popularity and with it a hankering for strong flavours and dark flesh.

Cargo planes returning to Japan after delivering the latest electronics to the US began purchasing cheap tuna fish and selling them back home at inflated prices. Bluefin tuna is considered an “authentic Japanese tradition.” This, Trevor Corson, author of The Story of Sushi told Food and Think, “was a marketing scheme of the Japanese airline industry.”

Demand and supply are the basic factors that make Bluefin Tuna expensive. As this fish continues to be served in high-end restaurants around the world, its population remains low. As per, stocks of the Bluefin Tuna in the Pacific are estimated to be at just four per cent of the pre-fishing days.

As per Business Insider, the price a customer pays for a Bluefin Tuna depends on where the fish is from, where it was raised, and where the customer is based. The report suggests Tuna that comes from Oma is considered the best in the world. According to Bloomberg, Oma’s Bluefin Tuna have been nicknamed ‘black diamonds’ because of their cost.