CRI在线收听:Protection of Jiaozhou Bay Emphasized in Qingdao

This is a marine base behind a Qingdao ocean shipping company, where over ten fishing boats anchor. By contrast, more than a year ago, the base used to be occupied by fish breeding rafts.

52-year old Liang Yu is an experienced breeder.

"Water quality is deteriorating due to the cages that are usually floated in rafts, and when water washes the cages, the sea will get polluted."

With a string of self-floating fish breeding cages on the surface of the sea, these cages are connected through a rope with the seabed piling frames. Inside the cages were shellfish, sea oyster, etc. The raft culture was getting very popular in the last century in Jiaozhou Bay.

There is a state-level research station in Qingdao dedicated to studies on Jiaozhou Bay marine ecosystem. The station is inside the Institute of Oceanography with Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Zhang Guangtao is the station's deputy director and has engaged in monitoring Jiaozhou Bay marine environment for 13 years. Each month, he will go onto sea to monitor Jiaozhou Bay water and biological species along with his colleagues.

"As fish breeding rafts were in an excessive number, we had to design our travelling route before we kicked off, since only a narrow strip of water remained open for traffic, with a lot larger areas occupied by breeding rafts."

Although the raft breeding has increased the fish varieties that local residents consumed and also increased breeders' income, it also blurred Jiaozhou Bay waters, making it look like full of pock marks.

More importantly, it affected the waterway's traffic safety.

In July 2015, the Qingdao city government issued a notice ordering breeders dismantle the raft and other facilities. The local government would pay breeders subsidies if they could take the initiative to remove these facilities.

Having grown up at seaside, Zhang Hai, a man who was born after 1980, is a famous breeder who bred tens of hectares of scallops. In a good harvest year, he can earn as much as over one million yuan.

Finding the dismantlement notice, scallop farmer Zhang felt very reluctant.

"I have engaged into breeding scallops for years. Even if I was paid with compensation, I am not happy with the changes but wanted to stay same for decades."

Qu Xuezong is faced with the same dilemma. In 2015, he became missioned with cleaning up the Jiaozhou Bay areas, following his naval operation in Nansha islands.

"To be honest, I think the task is extremely difficult, forcing breeders to permanently end up their business in the Jiaozhou Bay. Meanwhile, there isn't any replacement: if they were not allowed to farm in Jiaozhou Bay any longer, they couldn't farm elsewhere either."

Then negotiations were being held, and Qu Xuezong and his colleagues have compromised to delay the clean-up date till the end of July in 2016, from the original deadline on November 30, 2015. The extension of deadline might allow shellfish that the local breeders have already fed to grow up.

On the other hand, Qu Xuezong placed himself under intense pressure.

"There were too many local breeders who felt dissatisfied. We needed to comfort them to avoid conflicts. Also, I had to make arrangements like collecting evidence and setting up files. I almost had no time to sleep."

Although being repeatedly in a situation where local fish breeders fight, oppose, or challenge them in an angry way, Sun Zhiguang shows his utmost patience through regular communications with them.

Taking a small wooden boat, Sun Zhiguang, another leader for the local at-sea monitoring team, led his members who boarded about 20 such boats, travelling in a narrowly one-meter strip of water-area. They cooperated with third-party surveyors in calculating the number of floating fish farms and marking farms'positions with labels of various colors. During the course of a year, they completed the arduous task which previously had remained unsolved for almost 30 years. This has, however, taken its toll on Qu Xuezong.

"Before this clean-up operation, we felt quite blocked at sea. This project is now helping revive key water sources and wetlands."

The Jiaozhou Bay protection project includes a removal of all self-made breeding facilities, dismantlement of polluting enterprises and reducing damage on water areas from land-sourced pollution.

Qi Yanping, an engineer with North China Sea Environmental Monitoring Center of the State Oceanic Administration, said thanks to the project, the water environment of the Jiaozhou Bay has improved a lot.

"We categorize sea water mainly into four types. The top-grade is the cleanest water, and the second category is relatively clean water. And the rest types are all polluted waters. According to a report on Qingdao's marine environment published this year, the proportion of clean water has increased these years. The most heavily polluted body of water drops. In general, the Jiaozhou Bay's water quality has improved a lot."

To date, the campaign proves successful in protecting the bay ecology for sustaining the marine resources. Zhang Hai, along with other breeders, happily found that fish are harvested from this area more quickly than ever.

Besides, looking afar at an island near Jiaozhou Bay, visitors may rest their eyes again on oyster white and ocean blue.

For CRI, I'm ZW.