A piece of Bluefin Tuna (Maguro) sits on a sushi plate at Yum Yum Fish March 19, 2010 in San Francisco, California.
Credit: Justin Sullivan

Ever wondered why sushi is so expensive?

Here's part of your answer: a single bluefin tuna sold for a cool $1.7 million at Tokyo's famous Tsukiji market this weekend, setting a new price record.

The BBC reports that the 489 pound fish was put for sale in one of Tsukiji's first auctions of the year, which are known for driving high prices.

The $1.7 million price translates into $3,476 per pound of high-grade tuna meat.

"New Year Tuna" was snagged by representatives from Tokyo Zanmai, a popular Japanese sushi chain, and the buyers transported it to an outlet not far from the market after the purchase.

Read more from GlobalPost: Japan: Sushi market breaks records (VIDEO)

$1.7 million is nearly triple 2012's record price, which saw a larger 593 pound beast fetch a mere $736,000, according to the Associated Press.

Why such staggeringly high prices for tuna?

It's becoming harder than ever to catch them, as the world's fisheries begin to collapse under worldwide demand for sought-after species like the Western Atlantic bluefin tuna, the species to which this recent record-breaker belongs.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the USA estimates that the bluefin tuna population is "not sustainable."

However, in late 2012, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas set fishing quotas for 2013 and 2014 slightly higher than the previous year, wrote AFP.

Scientists for ICCAT claimed that they had found evidence of a tuna species revival, although conservationists were less sanguine about the ruling.

Bluefin tuna can reach upwards of 2,000 pounds, and can measure as much as 13 feet — and the migratory predators can live for as long as 20 years, subsisting primarily on other, smaller fish species.

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