Tens of thousands of sea turtles are estimated to be killed each year by shrimping nets in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, and an environmental group is suing federal regulators to do a better job protecting the endangered species.

But South Carolina waters are not a focus of the lawsuit — the waters off Gulf states are — and Oceana staffers concede the Palmetto State is a leader in conservation efforts.

At the heart of the suit is a demand that the National Marine Fisheries Service better enforce the use of TEDs, turtle excluder devices. South Carolina led the nation in requiring the cone-shaped escape funnels, among a number of other relatively strict protections.

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