Tuna could have fetched millions in Japan

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 05:00 13/01/2013
Nathan Adams
YOU BEWDY: Nathan Adams with his pending world record Pacific bluefin tuna.

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In the crazy maths of chasing the world's last fish and dicing it up for sushi, there is going to be a tuna mounted on a clubroom wall in Muriwai soon that could have been worth over $3 million.

Last May Auckland fisherman Nathan Adams caught a 335.4-kilogram bluefin tuna, but as he was not licensed to sell fish, and it was a by-catch from marlin fishing, he could never sell it.

The new benchmark for bluefin, one of the world's rarest tuna species, was set in a publicity stunt at Tokyo's soon-to-be-closed Tsukiji Fish Market, where last week a 221kg bluefin sold for 155.4 million yen ($2.1 million) - around $9500 per kilo.

Caught by a fisherman from Oma, it was a Pacific bluefin, close relative of the southern bluefin caught around Australia and New Zealand. A Tokyo sushi restaurant chain owner bought it only for bragging rights on the season's first bluefin - but it has implications for the surviving stock.

Japan came close to destroying southern bluefin stocks until it agreed to join the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna.

Members recognised bluefin are highly migratory and are not the property of any one nation.

Under the commission, New Zealand has a total catch quota of 830 tonnes - which by the crazy Tsukiji price would value the resource at over $7 billion.

In the real world, it's probably worth $27m at average price of $37.61 a kilo.

After Nathan Adams caught his bluefin, unusually off Houhora, he reckoned his wife would be upset that he couldn't sell it.

"I'm not rich so I wouldn't have minded a hundred grand, but there are rich guys overseas who would pay hundreds of thousands to mount that fish and get that on their wall and say that they caught it."

He said he would instead spend a couple of thousand dollars to get it mounted - and it will go on the wall at the new Muriwai Surf Club when it opens in March.

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- Sunday Star Times

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