A Cape May County tuna fisherman is fighting federal charges of shooting a pilot whale that was feeding on his boat’s catch.

Daniel Archibald denies the charges filed against him in U.S. District Court. But his lawyer, Bill Hughes Jr., said in court papers that even if Archibald shot the animal, he wasn’t breaking any laws.

The unusual case highlights the often contentious relationship between fishermen and the seals, whales and dolphins that steal their catch. And it points to the murky laws that give fishermen, marine contractors, researchers and others permission in some cases to kill them.

Prosecutors say Archibald, 27, of Cape May, in 2011 used a rifle to shoot at short-finned pilot whales feeding on the long-line catch of the Capt. Bob, a tuna boat based in Sea Isle City.

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