Pandemic weighs down blowfish prices

The season's first auction of blowfish, or fugu, has been held in Shimonoseki City, western Japan.

More than 2 tons of wild and farmed blowfish were auctioned at the Haedomari market early on Monday morning.

The city is home to Japan's largest market for the delicacy.

Buyers and brokers negotiated prices by grasping each other's fingers inside a cloth sleeve.

The highest bidding price was 18,000 yen, or about 160 dollars, per kilogram. That's down by around 18 dollars from last year, marking the second straight year-on-year decline.

Market sources say demand for the fish has fallen among restaurants in eastern and western Japan. A coronavirus state of emergency has been in place in these areas.

An official of the market operator expressed hope that demand will grow after local governments ease the restrictions on restaurants. He says he wants people across the country to enjoy tasty blowfish.