Shipments of Higashimono bigeye tuna begin in northeast Japan

Shipments of top-quality bigeye tuna have begun in the northeastern Japanese city of Shiogama, Miyagi Prefecture.

About 50 people took part in a ceremony at the city's fish market on Thursday to mark the start of shipping.

The Sanriku Shiogama Higashimono brand name is given to premium bigeye tuna unloaded at the market from early autumn to winter. The selection criteria include freshness and fattiness.

On Thursday, 246 tuna were landed. They weighed around 60 kilograms each. A total of 63 were selected for the brand.

Market officials say the best fish fetched 6,500 yen, or about 44 dollars, per kilo, up more than five dollars from last year.

The officials attribute the higher prices to the growing recognition of the brand. They say the tuna will be shipped to the prefectural capital Sendai as well as the Tokyo metropolitan area.

A man in his 20s said he had never tried Higashimono tuna before and it was delicious.