DETROIT, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. conservationists say measures meant to protect the Great Lakes from invasive species are moving too slowly and leave the lakes vulnerable to "catastrophe."
Efforts to regulate ballast water from oceangoing ships, considered the largest source of invasive species in the Great Lakes, have stalled, while the Mississippi River system, where invasive Asian carp are firmly entrenched, remains connected to the Great Lakes despite calls to close canals and connecting waterways, The Detroit News reported Monday.
Conservationists say the lack of action is unacceptable and leaves the Great Lakes under threat year after year.
"Maybe another year or two of waiting doesn't seem daunting, but if you get a new invasion of some species like zebra mussels that shows up in six months, then you could have a catastrophe on your hands," Andy Buchsbaum of the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes Regional Center said.
Environmental groups have called for federal laws to require oceangoing ships to meet a discharge standard for ballast water released into the Great Lakes.
A proposal passed in the U.S. House in 2008, but languished in the Senate and no bill was ever enacted.
In the Asian carp battle, a federal judge last month rejected a request be Michigan and five other states to close the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, which connects the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River system.
Later last month, the White House announced that separating the two water systems would not be part of its strategy to combat the Asian carp in 2011.