Bidding on tuna at Tokyo’s fish market (pictured October 2018 at its reopening) stopped at at a whopping 333.6 million yen for an enormous 278-kilogramme (612-pound) fish (Toshifumi KITAMURA)

Tokyo (AFP) – A record $3.1 million was paid for a giant tuna on Saturday as Tokyo’s new fish market, which replaced the world-famous Tsukiji late last year, held its first pre-dawn New Year’s auction.

Bidding stopped at a whopping 333.6 million yen for the enormous 278-kilogramme (612-pound) fish — an endangered species — that was caught off Japan’s northern coast.

Sushi entrepreneur Kiyoshi Kimura paid the top price, which doubled the previous record of 155 million paid in 2013.

“I bought a good tuna,” the self-styled “Tuna King” said after the auction.

“The price was higher than originally thought,” he added.

Tsukiji — the world’s biggest fish market and a popular tourist attraction in an area packed with restaurants and shops — moved in October to Toyosu, a former gas plant a bit further east.

Tsukiji, which opened in 1935, was best known for its pre-dawn daily auctions of tuna, caught from all corners of the ocean, for use by everyone from top Michelin-star sushi chefs to ordinary grocery stores.

Especially at the first auction of the new year, wholesalers and sushi tycoons have been known to pay eye-watering prices for the biggest and best fish.

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