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Page last updated at 03:07 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 04:07 UK

Tokyo tuna market bans tourists after trader complaints

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

Visitors to Tokyo will have to avoid the early morning tuna fish auction after complaints from traders their presence was hampering business.

The Metropolitan Government has banned tourists for a month.

The city's fish market is the biggest in the world, handling 2,000 tons of seafood every day.

The global boom in sushi has turned Tsukiji fish market into one of the Japan's most popular tourist attractions.

Every morning, before dawn, hundreds of tuna are laid out to be auctioned.

Some change hands for more than $100,000 (£66,000).

On Monday more than 500 visitors crowded in to see the sale.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said the sightseers have been disrupting business and announced that the auction will be closed to the public for a month.

Traders have long complained about the tourists, some of whom go straight to the early morning sale from the city's nightclubs.

Camera flashes are said to obscure the hand signals used to make bids.

The viewing area has been temporarily closed before amid outrage after drunken visitors embraced and kissed the fish.



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