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Govt neglects marine protection: Greens

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/10/2016

The government is being accused of neglecting marine protection following the release of a report which warns that many of New Zealand's native species are at risk of extinction.

The first ever marine environment report was released on Thursday by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand.

Ocean acidification caused by greenhouse emissions, ocean warming and coastal degradation are listed as the three biggest concerns.

"Ninety per cent of our native seabirds and shorebirds are threatened with or are at risk of extinction," said Environment Secretary Vicky Robertson.

"More than a quarter of our native marine mammals are threatened with extinction."

The Green Party says the government has had eight years to take action on climate change and marine protection but has let New Zealand's oceans decline to a sorry state.

"It's a bleak picture for our seas," said co-leader James Shaw.

"It's not good enough that this country, with our strong connection to the sea, has let our oceans suffer like this."

World Wildlife Fund New Zealand says the report carries a stark warning.

"It should serve as a wake-up call on the need for action to ensure ecosystems are not further degraded and species are not driven further towards extinction," said WWF-NZ spokesman Peter Hardstaff.

Environment Minister Nick Smith has welcomed the report as fundamental in understanding and addressing environmental challenges.

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