Liu Shangxi, a middle-aged man with dark skin, lives in the Hongdao Economic Zone near Jiaozhou Bay. He says a road paved a few years ago with garbage had cut the sea into two halves. The half near the shore has become a pool of stagnant water.
"This used to be a sea. At present, the cultivation of marine shrimp by lots of individuals flourishes here and there."
Zhang Hongliang is a senior engineer with North China Sea Environmental Monitoring Center of the State Oceanic Administration. He has engaged in oceanic environment monitoring for over three decades.
"In the 1950s and 1960s, a vast water area in Qingdao, Cangkou, was found to be home to a total of 141 marine species. There were only 27 types of marine species in the mid-1980s in Cangkou. Some researchers claimed they'd found only two types of marine species during the 1990s. In order to seek the truth, we conducted a survey and finally discovered a total of 19 species after searching almost everywhere."
Due to issues related to marine farming, drainage pollution, and more since the 1980s, the environment of Jiaozhou Bay has been deteriorating.
Statistics show the water area of Jiaozhou Bay shrank from 560 square kilometers before China's reform and opening up strategy to 362 square kilometers in 2010. The bay's size has been reduced by one third, largely weakening its capacity for holding tidal water.
The degree to which a bay can hold tidal water reflects the bay's self-purification capacity, which also determines the intensity of exchanges between the bay and the water areas beyond it.
Finding the Bay in crisis, Zhang Hongliang felt very sad:
"Dumping fill into the sea was stopped. In the late 1980s, the speed of filling-in water areas was too fast, which resulted in the decrease in the bay's capacity for holding tidal water, deterioration in water quality, and many other problems. We would eventually lose our mother Bay."
In the face of a pressing task to protect its marine environment, the Qingdao municipal government in 2012 outlined four environmental guidelines that targeted Jiaozhou Bay.
Zhou Zhaogang is a local official in charge of making regulations for environment resources.
"There are four key lines tagged as pollution control lines. A blue line is related to prevention and control efforts dedicated to water areas; the red line sets a maximum permitted span for erecting city buildings; the green line is set for ecological protection while a purple line is drawn for the protection work of cultural relics. The formation of these four lines lays a foundation for the protection of Jiaozhou Bay. After rounds of deliberation by municipal authorities, a consensus is reached that the blue line is the most important among all other tasks."
However, the conflict between the developing economy and protecting the environment remains. Jiaozhou Bay's blue economy campaign has been confronted with numerous pressures and doubts.
Doctor Zhao Kun has been working in the Qingdao Municipal Institute of Urban and Rural Planning and Design since 2009. One of her major tasks is drafting a prevention and control line for Jiaozhou Bay.
"This line should have a good grounding in law. After an all-sided consideration, we decided to advise the districts to cease constructing new buildings which had already obtained official approvals, but on which construction had not begun yet. Meanwhile, in the case when some construction had gone beyond the border of our control line, we demanded they restore it to its original look as a public green space ."
Later, the drafting of an ordinance on the protection of Jiaozhou Bay was considered.
Liu Zhirong, an official in charge of making laws and regulations with the municipal People's Congress Standing Committee, participated in the entire process of drafting this ordinance.
On the law-making process he expressed mixed feelings.
"Drafting this ordinance feels like walking on thin ice. We summarized their problems after visiting all 12 districts and put forward our advice and let them see if these ideas feasible. Discussions were repeatedly being held, around our advice and their feedback. But one thing for sure is that with the firm support from the municipal government, the protection of Jiaozhou Bay remained a top priority, for we all agreed that the future development of Qingdao would still largely depend on the bay."
On September 1st, 2014, the "blue economy" campaign ushered in a landmark moment: the ordinance on the protection of Jiaozhou Bay formally took effect. In the form of local legislation, the city has given the most stringent and permanent protection ever over the bay.
On November 1st, 2016, a conference was held reporting the progress following the ordinance's implementation. Eight members from the municipal People's Congress Standing Committee raised questions, regarding wetland protection, water quality, harnessing of the rivers which flow into the bay as well as the practices of ecological restoration. Staff from the local fishery and forestry bureaus, environmental protection authorities, and responsible city planners provided answers in detail.
It's hoped the design of a prevention and control line for Jiaozhou Bay, along with the implementation of this ordinance on the bay's protection, will safeguard the peace and stability of the mother bay of Qingdao over the long run.
For CRI, I'm Liu Min.