Sportfishing Industry Association Appoints Policy Director for the Keep Florida Fishing Initiative

Alexandria, VA – The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is pleased to announce that Kellie Ralston, a fifth generation Floridian and an expert in Florida’s marine fisheries management, has joined the ASA staff as Fishery Policy Director for the Keep Florida Fishing initiative. She joins Gary Jennings who is the Manager of the Keep Florida Fishing initiative’s coalition building efforts. Ralston’s tenure began on Monday, August 24, 2015. She will be based in Tallahassee, Florida’s state capitol.

Last October, ASA’s board of directors determined that an initiative specific to Florida was needed to ensure that anglers and the industry’s priorities were taken into consideration when polices or decisions were made that impact recreational fishing in the number one recreational fishing state in the U.S.

“Kellie has the experience and education that melds perfectly with our Keep Florida Fishing initiative’s fisheries policy goals and objectives,” said ASA VP for Government Relations Scott Gudes. “Kellie’s extensive experience working for and with Florida’s policy making process will have a positive impact on our efforts. In addition, her fisheries biology background is a great compliment to her policy experience since she knows very well what the science should be behind fisheries policy management decisions.”

Ralston began her career working on Everglades’ restoration projects with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and on water quality and boating issues as an analyst for the Florida House of Representatives’ Water and Resource Management Committee. She has most recently worked as an analyst with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission where she has been involved in policy development and stakeholder coordination for the Division of Marine Fisheries Management. 

“I am excited to join the American Sportfishing Association and lend my expertise to the Keep Florida Fishing initiative,” said Ralston. “As the ‘Fishing Capital of the World,’ Florida is an integral part of the fishing industry. Over the past decade, anglers and boaters have faced new challenges in fisheries management and maintaining access to pubic waters. I look forward to using my experience in state government and the legislative process to represent ASA’s interests as we focus our efforts on Florida to address these issues now and for the future.”

A fifth generation Floridian, Ralston’s love of nature and the outdoors began at an early age. Whether catching sunfish in the lakes or snakes in the woods, it was clear that she was most at home in Florida’s great outdoors. Ralston attended Florida State University (FSU) where she furthered her interest in the natural world and received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in biology. During this time, Ralston also worked with the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts, teaching middle school children about the marine environment with FSU’s Saturday-at-the-Sea program.

Ralston and Jennings will work with ASA’s Government Affairs team and the Keep Florida Fishing initiative’s steering committee to identify and prioritize the current water, access and fisheries issues that the recreational fishing industry is facing in Florida.

Ralston and her family call Tallahassee, Fla., their home.