An almost 600-pound bluefin tuna caught off the coast of Japan set the all-time auction record yesterday at Japan’s famous Tsukiji Fish Market. How much did the fish sell for? About $736,000 dollars. That’s a lot of tuna salad.

From this story in the Washington Post:

This tuna is worth savoring: It cost nearly three-quarters of a million dollars. A bluefin tuna caught off northeastern Japan fetched a record 56.49 million yen, or about $736,000, Thursday in the first auction of the year at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market. The price for the 593-pound (269-kilogram) tuna beat last year’s record of 32.49 million yen.

The price translates to 210,000 yen per kilogram, or $1,238 per pound — also a record, said Yutaka Hasegawa, a Tsukiji market official. Though the fish is undoubtedly high quality, the price has more to do with the celebratory atmosphere that surrounds the first auction of the year. The winning bidder, Kiyoshi Kimura, president of Kiyomura Co., which operates the Sushi-Zanmai restaurant chain, said he wanted to give Japan a boost after last year’s devastating tsunami. “Japan has been through a lot the last year due to the disaster,” a beaming Kimura told AP Television News. “Japan needs to hang in there. So I tried hard myself and ended up buying the most expensive one.” Kimura also said he wanted to keep the fish in Japan “rather than let it get taken overseas.”

The bluefin tuna is easily the most endangered, overfished and on-the-brink pelagic gamefish species swimming our oceans, and with prices like this, it’s easy to see why. Is there any hope to save it, or is the bluefin simply doomed?