HE HADN’T seen one in over 40 years, and now fishmonger Paul Cusack is literally rubbing his eyes to tell if seeing really is believing.
The well-known family fishmongers, in business for over 100 years, will be selling their third Atlantic bluefin tuna in Limerick’s famous Milk Market this Saturday - the third they’ve sold in a month.
The endangered fish, one of the largest in the world and known for its speed as well as size, is much sought after, especially in Japanese markets as it is used in sushi. It is regularly sold for vast sums at fish auctions around the world, and can grow to over 450kgs in weight, with a length of over 10ft.
The first haul Mr Cusack had ever seen in the flesh weighed 250kg, and was sold by them in the market in mid-July.
A second, weighing 280kg, was sold there last Saturday, when it was divided it into well over 700 portions and sold throughout the week.
Like the earlier yields, this too was caught hundreds of miles off the coast of Cork by fisherman from Castletownbere Fisherman’s Co-op.
Mr Cusack, a third-generation fishmonger, explained that bluefin tuna are a protected species and said their catchment is an ethical issue, which has brought a minor number of complaints from the public.
However, he explained: “There’s a certain by-catch allowed. They’re not fishing for them, but for Albacore tuna and swordfish, so when these come on deck, they’re dead anyway. It’s a contentious issue obviously. We like to try out unusual fish to try to expand the market and keep it interesting for everybody.”
In Cork’s English Market, another three bluefin tuna have sold there in the past month, and like Limerick, have proven to be a major talking point and attraction for market buyers.