Japanese Fisherman Sells World-Record Tuna For $1.76 Million

1/7/13 2:42PM EST

As the old Chinese proverb says, “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.” In the case of a 489-pound bluefin tuna caught off the shore of northeastern Japan, one fish will likely feed thousands of men and secure the fisherman financially for a lifetime.

The bluefin tuna sold Jan. 5 at Tokyo’s Tsukiji market for an all-time high of $1.76 million—more than 155 million yen. At $3,600 per pound, the sale makes the marbled, rich-flavored tuna worth about eight times the value of the more common silver variety.

The price was a bit high,” the winning bidder Kiyoshi Kimura told the Kyodo News Agency. “But I hope we can encourage Japan by providing good tuna.” He operates the Sushi Zanmai restaurant chain, which claims to be Japan’s first 24-hour, 365-days-a-year sushi bar.

Kimura hoped to offer the fish to Saturday-evening customers. Japan is the world’s largest consumer of tuna, and the most prized variety is the fatty bluefin, called “o-toro,” of which tiny sushi slices sell for as much as $24 apiece. In fact, Japanese consume as much as 80 percent of the world’s declining tuna stock, causing concern among environmentalists.

Everything we’re hearing is that there’s no good news for the Pacific Bluefin,” Amanda Nickson, the director of the Washington-based Pew Environmental Group’s global tuna conservation campaign, told the Associated Press. “We’re seeing a very high value fish continue to be overfished.

Stock of bluefin tuna fell by as much as 60 percent in parts of the world between 1997 and 2007 due to overfishing. Although stricter catch limits have helped the population in recent years, experts argue the species is still in danger.