It sounds like a culinary twist on the famous Vietnam-era statement — “It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.” — but there’s some logic behind Trout Unlimited‘s campaign this week to save Bristol Bay’s wild salmon.

Trout Unlimited is, according to this story in the Anchorage Press, a national non-profit of fly-fishermen, and the group has hit the streets of D.C. like a school of piranha. They’ve been here all week for meetings on the Hill and to prove to Washingtonians that Bristol’s wild sockeye salmon is both tasty and worth protecting from the proposed Pebble mine, which according to Trout Unlimited, is “the world’s largest open-pit gold and copper mine in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska.”

Maybe you’ve sampled the salmon this week? The fish has been on plates at such restaurants as Blue RidgeCoppi’s OrganicEquinoxGranville Moore’sHarry’s Tap Room, HookKaz Sushi BistroPoste Moderne BrasserieRedwoodRock Creek Mazza,  and Sonoma.

Y&H asked Paula Dobbyn, the director of communications and co-director of policy for Trout Unlimited, why they’re targeting Washington diners in the campaign to save the Bristol Bay salmon. What, after all, can a diner do?

Her response is after the jump:

As far as the focus on D.C., we recognize that the nation’s seat of power is there and that many folks in the district and surrounding suburbs have the influence and connections needed to help shape the debate. We’re trying to put Bristol Bay on the radar screens of Americans in general and get it the national recognition that it deserves. Many Americans know about oil drilling and caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or about the timber wars in the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska. Or they’ve heard of Denali or Glacier Bay. But Bristol Bay is still largely unknown, even though it produces most of the wild salmon left on the planet and it’s an incredibly gorgeous place. It’s also largely unprotected from development, unlike the national parks and forests.

We’re trying to get permanent protection for the Bristol Bay watershed so that a massive mine like Pebble could never be built there. That’s why we’re bringing the issue to DC. And instead of just lobbying Congress, we think it’s important to engage people through their taste buds. There are millions of seafood lovers out there. We feel that if they know what’s at stake in Bristol Bay, they will “vote with their forks” and insist that this incredible area and resource be protected. (see for more on Trout Unlimited’s Vote With Your Fork campaign.)

Photo by Lindsey Bloom via Trout Unlimited