The recent threads on this are mixing too many issues together. I would like to separate of a couple parts of this as follows:
- ACA/BCU type programs are primarily teaching boat handling and rescue skills, and navigation and isues related general safety, to increase paddler confidence and capabilities.
- The Government bodies are primarily concerned with the general safe operation of all types of vessels on public waterways. They could care less if we can execute a decent bow rudder or roll our boats. They just don’t want us killing or injuring anyone, including ourselves, or disrupting others by operating without basic understanding of the rules and respect for other traffic.
Once this distinction is made, it become clear that any near term legislation would likely be along the lines of the general requirements for motor operators: Basic boater safety courses, minimal safety equipment on board, and boat registration (which many have already). While these steps may be a pain for some, I think most of us could live with them and they would have minimal impact on our paddling.
Using the threat of legislation as some sort of push for ACA/BCU type certification is a distortion. Mixing apples and oranges.
Such certifications, and more importantly the training leading to them, may be of great use to many paddlers - but are not likely to reduce any added Government requirements on paddlers. That is driven by the lowest level of paddler, not the highest.
The only possible benefit I see is that the governing bodies may seek out some “experts” for input, and give more credence to their input based on experience and “star” qualifications. That’s along shot though, as “experts” opinions can be ignored when the issue at hand is regulating non-experts. That also assumes the “expert” input would be in the general interest and not just their own as a way to increase training requirements.
A possible downside is these organizations attract attention and present paddling in an often less than recreational light. Their focus on skills development, while commendable and a valuable service to the paddling community internally, can make kayaking appear even more dangerous and in need of regulation to an outsider.
Let the instructors and top paddlers continue serve as examples, and show the rest what is possible if they want more out of paddling. Keep them out of politics.