WELLINGTON, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- Greenhouse gases and marine activities are putting New Zealand's oceans, coasts and marine life under pressure, said a government report out Thursday.
The first national report on the marine environment, issued by the Ministry for the Environment and the government statistics agency, identified three top areas of concern.
The first concern was global greenhouse gas emissions causing ocean acidification and warming - changes that would continue for generations.
The second was the fact that most of New Zealand's native marine birds and many mammals were threatened with or at risk of extinction.
And the third was that the coasts were the most degraded of all marine areas, due to sediment and nutrients washed off the land, introduced marine pests, and seabed trawling and dredging.
"We're a maritime nation. Having healthy and resilient oceans is important for all New Zealanders and for our economy. Today's marine environment report shows that our marine environment is facing a number of serious challenges," government statistician Liz MacPherson said in a statement.
Secretary for the environment Vicky Robertson said the oceans were facing multiple, and cumulative pressures that had been building over generations, particularly from greenhouse gas emissions.
"Our waters have become more acidic from absorbing excess CO2 (carbon dioxide). This affects the creatures that live there," Robertson said in the statement.
"Climate change is also warming the ocean and causing sea-level rises, which impact not only on fish but also other wildlife and our own coastal communities."
The report showed that some marine wildlife and coastal habitats were in a fragile state.
"Ninety percent 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. Fishing bycatch, introduced predators, and habitat change are among a raft of reasons for the poor state of much marine wildlife," said Robertson.
MacPherson said the report showed how little was known about the marine environment.
"The environmental reporting program is working to improve our data over time. However, New Zealanders need to consider the costs of delaying action in the absence of perfect information," she said
Environment Minister Nick Smith said the government was committed through a series of international agreements to improving marine stewardship and would be updating its marine legislation next year.
"This report is a key step towards a better understanding of the impact of human activity on the seas around us," Smith said in a statement.
"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."