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Tsukiji’s $100,000 Tuna Raises Eyebrows In Canada

The perfect bluefin is often described as “a butterball”.

But that word pales when it comes to describing the tuna caught off Oma, Japan, which fetched more than $100,000 in a recent Tokyo auction.

“I wouldn’t mind hooking onto one or two of them,” joked Seacow Pond fisher Ricky Brennan, who landed three bluefin last season —none fetching anywhere close to six figures.

But more realistically, he would be happy to land a tuna worth one-tenth of that price, about $10,000, said Brennan.

On Jan. 5 a cool $104,700 was paid by two sushi bar owners, one in Hong Kong and the other in Tokyo, who decided to share the 282.5-pound fish.

“It would have to be a perfect fish. And the market conditions would have to be perfect, with no fish around,” said Brennan.

A butterball is a fish with the ideal body shape and fat content. ‘Football’ is also used to describe the oval, rounded shape of a tuna fetching top dollar.

A 500-pound tuna worth $20 a pound would bring in about $10,000, but $20 a pound hasn’t been seen on P.E.I. since the 1990s, said Brennan.

However, things are looking up since the international body overseeing the world’s tunas slashed the quota for bluefin in the Eastern Atlantic, including Japan, while also reducing tuna catches, but not by as much, for Canadian and American fishers.
Less supply, even with a grinding recession, should mean higher prices, said Brennan.

“Buyers are telling us prices could reach $20 over the next few years,” he said.
But don’t expect $100,000 tuna to be caught off P.E.I.’s shores any time soon, since there are 250 licensed fishers, almost guaranteeing steady supply during much of the season, he said.

Another Island tuna fisher, Kenny Drake, recalls a tuna caught several years ago (not in P.E.I. waters) that also fetched $100,000 in auction.

The fish was dubbed “the golden tuna” and not just because of its stratospheric price.

“It had a golden cast to it,” he said, which is very desirable to buyers. “There are so many variables,” said Drake, including the availability of other tuna which could drive prices up or down.

Still, it is astonishing that someone is willing to pay the equivalent of $370 a pound for anything, said Drak
e.