Page last updated at 10:15 GMT, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Tuna hits highest price in nine years at Tokyo auction

By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Tokyo

Wholesalers check the quality of frozen tuna at Tsukiji Fish Market on 17 July, 2008 in Tokyo, Japan.
Tuna stocks are running low but demand for the delicacy remains high

A tuna has been sold at auction in Tokyo's fish market for 16.28 million yen ($175,000, £109,000), the highest price paid in Japan for nine years.

The bluefin tuna weighs 232 kg - nearly four times as much as the average Japanese man.

It was caught off the northern tip of Japan's main island of Honshu, in waters famed for high quality fish.

Tuna is prized in Japan, where people eat it raw in sushi, but there is concern that stocks are dwindling.

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The record-breaking tuna was put on the block in the first auction of the new year at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market.

The tuna was bought jointly by one of the city's most upmarket restaurants, and an entrepreneur from Hong Kong who runs a chain of sushi bars.

Last year a similar fish made less than 10 million yen.

Bluefin tuna is known as the king of sushi and the Japanese eat more of it than any other nation, according to the BBC's correspondent in Tokyo, Roland Buerk.

Conservationists are calling for a moratorium on fishing to save the bluefin tuna from extinction in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

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