Perceptions of the New Zealand environment are improving, according to a long running survey by Lincoln University researchers.

That is despite the gloomy "we're all doomed" tone of so much environmental reporting.

The survey, the ninth since its inception in 2000, is said to be the only long-running one of its type in the world.

And despite the relentless demonising of the commercial fishing industry by Forest & Bird and Greenpeace in particular, the survey reported marine impacts are diminishing.

Water related issues were again rated as the most important environmental issue facing New Zealand, while greenhouse gas emissions and climate change was again the most commonly identified global issue.

A higher proportion of younger people responded and were seen as far more optimistic than those responding to the previous survey in 2016.

Management of all components of the environment was considered to be adequate to good, with management of national parks rated the highest. Rivers and lakes, marine fisheries, coastal resources and beaches, and groundwater were judged to be the worst managed parts of the environment.

Across the surveys, rivers and lakes have consistently been rated amongst the worst managed environmental sectors.

Management of farm effluent and runoff continued to be perceived very negatively.

Kiwi are perceived as the species most in need of protection, as per the 2016 result.

Kakapo were second followed by Hectors and Maui dolphins, a reversal of the previous result.

The comical, endangered mountain parrot, the kea, moved up the public concern rating to fourth, reflecting the decline in its fortunes.

The authors of the electronic survey of 2073 people are Ken Hughey, Geoff Kerr and Ross Cullen.

The Quota Management System is credited with improving profitability and efficiency of fisheries, the report said.

However, a glaring omission in the report commentary is acknowledgement of the QMS’ contribution to sustainability.

“While aspects of New Zealand fisheries management were viewed internationally as world-leading, within New Zealand there is debate about some other aspects of fisheries and sea floor management," it said.

“Bycatch of various types is declining in New Zealand waters but still poses risks.”

The estimated fur seal bycatch fell from 1443 in 2005 to 387 in 2014; bycatch of fish and invertebrates fell 72 percent to 32,000 tonnes in the 10 years to 2012; the number of seabirds caught each year fell from 7736 in 2005 to 5075 in 2014; the number of sea lions estimated to have been caught fell from 51 in 2005 to 34 in 2014.

These figures are outdated and the downward trends have continued.

There is a similar story with trawling.

“Between 1997 and 2014 the number of trawl tows reported each year decreased more than 50 percent and the number of dredge tows decreased 83 percent.

“Total trawled area fell from 80,000 square kilometres in 2003 to 40-44,000 during 2008-2018. "

These findings are consistent with the Environment Aotearoa 2019 stock take issued by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ.

An international Environmental Performance Index ranked New Zealand 17th out of 180 countries, down from 1st in 2006.

This country was assessed to be performing "very strongly in marine protected areas and air".

Biodiversity loss and fertiliser usage contributed to a New Zealand ranking of 18th of 171 countries in a separate international comparative study led by the University of Adelaide.

Natural forest loss, habitat conversion, marine captures, water pollution and carbon emissions were other factors.

While we have undeniable issues, New Zealand's comparatively high ranking reinforces the public's view that we live in a cleaner and greener environment than is found in many developed countries.