Zebra and quagga mussles threaten to invade B.C. waters.

Zebra and quagga mussles threaten to invade B.C. waters.

Documentarian works to protect B.C. water from mussel threat

After hearing about the threat posed by invasive zebra and quagga mussles, filmmaker Brynne Morrice set out to learn more about this issue.

The Elk Valley is home to breathtaking lakes and rivers. From Lake Koocanus to the Elk River, locals take pride in their waters and the activities those waters provide, including kayaking, white water rafting, fly fishing and swimming. But what happens if those lakes and rivers are taken over?

After hearing about the threat posed by invasive zebra and quagga mussles, filmmaker Brynne Morrice set out to learn more about this issue, creating a documentary aimed at drawing awareness and working to protect the Okanagan and B.C. waters.

He quickly discovered that the clinging mussels coat structures, produce feces that pollutes waters with green algae and consume fish’s food.

Morrice began taking action.

 

“Something needs to be done and more people need to know about it,” Morrice said. “Basically any day this could happen. It’s just a matter of time really. There’s no time to lose.”

According to Morrice’s documentary, the mussel’s impact to lakes and rivers is disastrous, and it is projected to have cost North America $5 billion dollars in repairs thus far.

The invasive species were brought here from Russia in the 1980’s, and have since hitchhiked their way through much of Eastern and Southern North America on boats.

“The beauty of British Columbia’s lakes and rivers is unparallel…but something threatens to invade B.C. that would destroy our freshwater forever,” Morrice warns in his documentary.

After working with the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB)’s WaterWise Program and filming in the Kootenay’s, the Okanagan and into Arizona — a state on the front lines of the mussel-fight — Morrice established one simple goal — to raise awareness about the mussel threat that would push people to call for action.

The province announced that they would be investing $1.3 million in funding to help protect B.C. from the mussels. The funding would go towards three roving inspection stations, where guards could stop and inspect boats coming into the province.

But for Morrice, this is simply not enough.

“To me, the only thing that stands a chance of protecting the province is mandatory permanent inspection stations at every crossing,” advised Morrice. “My ultimate goal is to make this known in every household in B.C. and second to create a groundswell of public pressure on the provincial government so that they put the protections in place that are necessary at the borders.”

Morrice went on to say, “There’s no grey area with this issue. It only takes one boat.”

The documentarian has reached out to Tourism Fernie and City of Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano to spread awareness about this mussel threat, and already he has received positive feedback from both parties.

 

Giuliano sent a letter to the province calling for action, while Tourism Fernie has become sharing the campaign.

For more information on the issue, visit www.protectourfreshwater.ca, and you can watch the film at vimeo.com/protectourfreshwater