Monster bluefin tuna weighed 415kg

CLIO FRANCIS
Last updated 11:35 07/03/2013
The tuna and Dan Walsh
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GIANT: The tuna and crew member Dan Walsh.

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A monster bluefin tuna caught off the New Zealand coast could spell a big payday for some Coromandel fishermen.

The giant pacific bluefin tuna, caught on Tuesday afternoon off the East Cape, had a live weight of 415kg and a gutted weight of 361kg. It arrived in Whitianga to be unloaded last night.

The fish was caught by a three-man crew aboard the 20m longline fishing boat the Karina B. The boat is owned by Whitianga locals, father and son team Dugal and Wayne Macfarlane.

Wayne, the boat's skipper, said the fish took around half an hour to land.

It was "a bit of a mission" to get it aboard, he said.

"We've got a hydraulic lifting boom on the boat but it was right on the limit and it was stalling.

"We caught it on the longline... for a very short time of the year, usually in the month of March, you get a small amount of these big tunas.''

There were celebrations after they landed the tuna.

"The boys were amping, they were going off,'' Wayne said.

The fish was being transferred to Tauranga where it would be put in a "coffin" and prepared for sale in Japan.

It would be air freighted to the Tokyo markets and probably go under the hammer on Saturday.

"The factory told us it was the biggest one they've had through their place and they've been going a while,'' Wayne said.

The bluefin could sell for an enormous sum on auction day. 

"It can be fickle. We could get anywhere between 40 or 50 grand, and that's after we lose a third on associated costs. It depends on the day really,'' Wayne said.

His father, Dugal, said it was the biggest tuna he'd seen.

"And I've fished all my life... it was a pretty amazing fish. We've had other fish, sort of 80 or 100 kilos lighter than that over the years but this is the biggest one by quite a bit.''

The crew were having a day off today, but had returned to the water to take part in a local fishing competition.

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