THE Canary Islands are trying to cut protection given to half of its endangered species.

Despite protests from scientists and environmental groups, the autonomous government has introduced a draft law aiming to cut legal protection for various areas and species.

Regional environmental chief, Francisco Martín, defended the changes to the catalogue of protected species, which is based on a database maintained by the Canarian government.

Opponents believe that the real reason behind the changes lies with a court sentence that stopped construction of a giant port in Granadilla, Tenerife, because of the danger to the nearby seaweed beds.

The new catalogue would reduce protection for the algae, opening the door to a 380 million euro construction project.