At Tokyo's Tsukiji Market, the world's biggest fish market, the first auction of the year found a 507-pound southern bluefin tuna -- a critically endangered species -- selling for a whopping $70,000 US.
The southern bluefin tuna is, according to the IUCN Red List, critically endangered. The Monterey Aquarium, a worldwide leader in ocean monitoring and conservation, says: "Sadly, our appetite for this delicacy has led to high prices, overfishing and the near collapse of bluefin populations worldwide." Monterey's Seafood Watch, a guide to eating seafood sustainably, says to avoid eating the southern bluefin in all forms, whether wild-caught or farmed. Its current population is estimated to be about 4 percent of its unfished levels, and the species is dangerously close to disappearing. It is, nevertheless, extremely popular worldwide and especially popular in Japan, where it's prized for sushi. Though tuna are sold through auction year round at Tsukiji Market, the first-of-year auction isn't like the others. Andrew David Thaler, writing at Southern Fried Science, explains: