The At-Sea Processors Association (APA) says US military protection of the Bering Sea groundfish fleets should be “non-negotiable” after a spate of incidents involving Russian military vessels in the US Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Bering Sea in August and September.

Recent confrontations initiated by Russian warships and warplanes against US-flagged fishing vessels operating lawfully within the US EEZ have caused fishing boat captains and their crews to fear for their safety, disrupting the business operations of fishing companies at a critical point in a very important fishing season, Stephanie Madsen, executive director of the At-sea Processors Association wrote in a prepared statement for a US Senate hearing, which was postponed at the last minute.

Some vessels reported being buzzed by Russian planes and ordered out of the area on a specific heading.

The incidents led the State Department to investigate encounters between a fleet of Russian warships and US groundfish vessels.

"A robust US military presence to protect US interests in the region is simply non-negotiable," Madsen wrote.

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