The main reason that this species – The Bahaba – commands such high prices is in Chinese medicine, in which the swim bladder – used in treating lung and heart ailments – is highly prized.
You might find this hard to swallow, but some people will pay incredible prices for freshly caught fish, as evidenced by a Chinese fisherman catching and taking to market an extremely rare Bahaba ( see Picture above ) – off the Fujian Province coast – which weighed in at 176 lbs, and sold for in excess of $475,000.
The main reason that this species – The Bahaba – commands such high prices is in Chinese medicine, in which the swim bladder – used in treating lung and heart ailments – is highly prized. So much so, in fact, that with these fish known to have been caught in the past at over 200 lbs pounds, commanding even higher prices, in excess of half a million dollars.
Not that these golden creatures represent the highest prices paid for certain sea-foods, because there are those do not mind paying big money for some things, like the 2011 catching, off the Japanese coast at Oma, of a Bluefin tuna weighing almost 592 pounds.
This huge tuna was bought by the Tokyo-based Kiyomura Company at a record-breaking price of around $1,244 per lb, $736,700 in total. The problem for fishermen is that Japanese regulations require any fish to be used for sushi must be frozen within 20 minutes of being caught, though it still pays there, because Bluefin tuna is the most expensive commercially caught fish in that country.
When Irish fisherman Tom Kennedy, Aug. 3, caught a Bluefin off the Irish coast weighing 308 lbs, chances are that he barely made more than a few hundred pounds for it, just because he caught it in the wrong place to really cash in. For the real food fanatics, the Caspian Sea sourced beluga sturgeon – where beluga caviar, a luxury commodity associated with high-end elegance – is the bees knees, but so hard is it to get hold of this now that real deal can easily fetch $500 per oz!
Banned in the United States in 2005 – by the Fish and Wildlife Service – because International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the Beluga Sturgeon as critically endangered – there are still those who will settle for nothing less than the real thing, whatever the price, so the future for these ever rarer creatures looks bleak indeed.
Of course there are also those who love to take risks, none more than the thrill seeking diners who consume Fugu. This is the Japanese word for Puffer-Fish, the consumption of which has the potential to be very costly indeed, because the organs of these deadly creatures contain tetrodotoxin – a deadly poison that if ingested causes asphyxiation – yet gourmet diners consider it a delicacy worth paying handsomely for.
Even the Japanese chefs who prepare these have to serve a 3-year apprenticeship, then a licensing exam and, finally having to eating a fish they themselves have prepared. As long as they survive without showing signs of succumbing to paralysis, suffering muscle shutdown and ultimately dying, then they will have passed the exam.
Personally, when weighing up the potential risks of eating these frighteningly expensive fish – a Puffer-Fish meal for two could cost $300 – against the potential damage to the species involved, or indeed to oneself, I would be more in favour of sticking to traditional types of fish-based meals at much more sensible prices. Sadly, there will always be those who see things differently, for which the natural world pays a heavy price.