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Message from the Secretary for the Environment and the Government Statistician

He taura whiri kotahi mai anō te kopunga tai no i te pu au
From the source to the mouth of the sea all things are joined together as one

As a nation, we have an obligation to ensure that we look after our coasts and oceans, so that biodiversity and our well-being are sustained for generations to come. Our successful stewardship of the marine environment depends upon having reliable information on how and why the environment is changing, and the impacts these changes have on our lives.

New Zealand’s Environmental Reporting Series: Our marine environment 2016 is the third report produced in the Environmental Reporting Series, following Environment Aotearoa 2015 and the 2014 Air domain report. It is the first report to be produced under the Environmental Reporting Act 2015, which came into force in June 2016. The Act requires the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand to produce regular, robust, and reliable reports on the environment. Six-monthly reports on each of the ‘domains’ (marine, fresh water, atmosphere and climate, land, and air) will be followed by a whole-of-environment report every three years.

Our marine environment 2016 highlights the importance of taking an international view of environmental stewardship. On a global scale, high concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are increasing ocean temperatures. In addition, increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are causing the oceans to acidify. Our data show similar trends in New Zealand waters. While the full implications for New Zealand are not clear, these physical and chemical changes to our marine environment are expected to continue for generations.

Other products complement this report. The Environmental indicators Te taiao Aotearoa website contains graphs, maps, tables, and more detailed technical information. An infographic gives a pictorial view of our key findings, while our data service provides the raw data we used in our analysis.

These products are part of an ongoing effort to produce and make available more comprehensive information about our environment. To be truly effective, the products must do more than simply provide information – they need to support New Zealanders to make better decisions at all levels of society and government.

Vicky Robertson                                                                      Liz MacPherson
Secretary for the Environment                                               Government Statistician