Tuna sells for record $3 million in auction at Tokyo's new fish market

TOKYO, Jan 5 (Reuters) - The owner of a Japanese sushi restaurant chain on Saturday set a record by paying more than $3 million for a bluefin tuna in the year's first auction at Tokyo's new fish market, exceeding his own record price of 2013.

Kiyoshi Kimura, who owns the Sushizanmai chain, paid 333.6 million yen ($3.1 million) for the 613 pound fish caught off the coast of northern Japan's Aomori prefecture, or double what he had paid six years ago.

"The tuna looks so tasty and very fresh, but I think I did too much," Kimura told reporters outside the market later.

"I expected it would be between 30 million and 50 million yen, or 60 million yen at the highest, but it ended up five times more."

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Bluefin tuna sells for record $3 million in Tokyo fish market auction
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Bluefin tuna sells for record $3 million in Tokyo fish market auction
Kiyomura Co's President Kiyoshi Kimura (C), who runs a chain of sushi restaurants Sushi Zanmai, poses with a 278kg bluefin tuna, priced with a 333,600,000 yen bid at the Toyosu fish market's first tuna auction this year at his sushi restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Kiyomura Co's President Kiyoshi Kimura, who runs a chain of sushi restaurants Sushi Zanmai, tastes meat from a 278kg bluefin tuna, priced with a 333,600,000 yen bid at the Toyosu fish market's first tuna auction this year, at his sushi restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Meat from a 278kg bluefin tuna, priced with a 333,600,000 yen bid at the Toyosu fish market's first tuna auction this year is pictured at Sushi Zanmai restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Journalists film a 278kg bluefin tuna, priced with a 333,600,000 yen bid is pictured in front of sushi restaurants Sushi Zanmai in Tokyo, Japan, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Kiyomura Co's President Kiyoshi Kimura, who runs a chain of sushi restaurants Sushi Zanmai, gestures after tasting meat from a 278kg bluefin tuna, priced with a 333,600,000 yen bid at the Toyosu fish market's first tuna auction this year, at his sushi restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A customer reacts as he looks at meat from a 278kg bluefin tuna, priced with a 333,600,000 yen bid at the Toyosu fish market's first tuna auction this year, at Sushi Zanmai restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Kiyomura Corp. owner Kiyoshi Kimura, left, stands near the bluefin tuna which he made a wining bid at the annual New Year auction, in Tokyo Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. The 612-pound (278-kilogram) bluefin tuna sold for a record 333.6 million yen ($3 million) in the first auction of 2019, after Tokyo's famed Tsukiji market was moved to a new site on the city's waterfront. (Koki Sengoku/Kyodo News via AP)
A customer takes pictures of a sushi roll made with meat from a 278kg bluefin tuna, priced with a 333,600,000 yen bid at the Toyosu fish market's first tuna auction this year, at Sushi Zanmai restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Kiyomura Co's President Kiyoshi Kimura (C), who runs a chain of sushi restaurants Sushi Zanmai, poses at his sushi restaurant as he prepares to cut a 278kg bluefin tuna, priced with a 333,600,000 yen bid at the Toyosu fish market's first tuna auction this year in Tokyo, Japan, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Kiyomura Co's employee holds the head of a 278kg bluefin tuna, priced with a 333,600,000 yen bid at the Toyosu fish market's first tuna auction this year, at Sushi Zanmai restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Kiyomura Corp. owner Kiyoshi Kimura, right, poses with the bluefin tuna he made a winning bid at the annual New Year auction, in front of his Sushi Zanmai restaurant in Tokyo Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. The 612-pound (278-kilogram) bluefin tuna sold for a record 333.6 million yen ($3 million) in the first auction of 2019, after Tokyo's famed Tsukiji market was moved to a new site on the city's waterfront. (Koki Sengoku/Kyodo News via AP)
Kiyomura Co's President Kiyoshi Kimura (L), who runs a chain of sushi restaurants Sushi Zanmai, gestures after cutting meat from a 278kg bluefin tuna, priced with a 333,600,000 yen bid at the Toyosu fish market's first tuna auction this year, at his sushi restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Kiyomura Co's President Kiyoshi Kimura (C), who runs a chain of sushi restaurants Sushi Zanmai, cuts a 278kg bluefin tuna, priced with a 333,600,000 yen bid at the Toyosu fish market's first tuna auction this year, at his sushi restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Journalists film a 278kg bluefin tuna, priced with a 333,600,000 yen bid is pictured in front of sushi restaurants Sushi Zanmai in Tokyo, Japan, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Kiyomura Co's President Kiyoshi Kimura (C), who runs a chain of sushi restaurants Sushi Zanmai, poses as he prepares to cut a 278kg bluefin tuna, priced with a 333,600,000 yen bid at the Toyosu fish market's first tuna auction this year at his sushi restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A 278kg bluefin tuna, priced with a 333,600,000 yen bid is pictured in front of sushi restaurants Sushi Zanmai in Tokyo, Japan, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Kiyomura Co's President Kiyoshi Kimura (C), who runs a chain of sushi restaurants Sushi Zanmai, cuts a 278kg bluefin tuna, priced with a 333,600,000 yen bid at the Toyosu fish market's first tuna auction this year, at his sushi restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
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Saturday's event was the first New Year auction of the Toyosu market, after the famed Tsukiji fish market shut last year to provide temporary parking for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

Kimura had held the record for top price paid for a single fish at the new year's auction for six straight years until 2017. But last year, the owner of a different fish restaurant chain paid the highest price.

After the auction, the fish was taken to one of Sushizanmai's branches located in the old market of Tsukiji.

Tuna is prized around the world for its use in sushi, but experts warn growing demand has made it an endangered species.

($1=108.5200 yen)

(Writing by Junko Fujita; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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