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Marine animal extinction a major concern

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/10/2016

The potential extinction of many of New Zealand's native marine birds and mammals is one of the biggest concerns revealed in the nation's first ever marine environment report.

The Ministry for Environment and Statistics New Zealand have also raised global greenhouse emissions causing ocean acidification and warming, and degraded coasts as the top three issues in their joint report.

Environment Secretary Vicky Robertson says pressures from land and sea-based human activities have been building on the ocean for generations.

"Ninety per cent of our native seabirds and shorebirds are threatened with or at risk of extinction. More than a quarter of our native marine mammals are threatened with extinction," she said.

"Fishing bycatch, introduced predators and habitat change are among a raft of reasons for the poor state of much marine wildlife."

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

"We must better understand the state of our oceans to properly manage them. Reports such as this are helping us build a better picture of the challenges we face, although we know there is still more work to be done."

A second report by Statistics New Zealand also released on Thursday showed the marine economy contributed $4 billion, or 1.9 per cent, to New Zealand's gross domestic product in 2013.

The marine reports are expected to be released six monthly, with the next to focus on fresh water issues.

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