Prices dive at Tokyo's new year tuna auction

Tokyo's largest fish market, Toyosu, rings in the new year with its first tuna auction of 2021.

But the coronavirus pandemic has slashed tuna prices, because people aren't eating out.

According to staff, the priciest blue-fin tuna sold at 20.8 million yen on Tuesday (January 5) - or just over two hundred thousand U.S. dollars.

That's just 10 percent of the biggest seller of 2020: a blue fin that went for nearly 1.9 million dollars.

It's not the first sign the pandemic has hit the tuna market. Japan's tuna imports fell 18 percent in the first six months of 2020 from a year earlier, the finance ministry reported.

One major bidder - Kiyomura corp, which owns a number of popular restaurant chains - said it decided to refrain from bidding high this year.

That's because top bids for prize tuna tend to create a media buzz - and could encourage diners to flock to their restaurants despite the COVID risks.