Paddling Conduct & Ethics: Be Nice, Be Clean

The American Canoe Association (ACA)—supporting paddlers since 1880—publishes a list of best-practices for paddling conduct and environmental ethics…

woman kayaking: paddling ethics
(photo courtesy of Facing Waves)

Paddling Conduct

Paddling conduct has to do with how we treat other paddlers, boaters, anglers, private property owners—other people using the same space.

Here are 7 common-sense ways we paddlers can do our part to help keep water sports fun for everyone:

  • Obey the regulations where you paddle. Don’t give anyone reason to add more rules!
  • Respect private property. Stick with public landings and access for launching, take-out, rest stops, picnics, etc.
  • Be considerate! You’re not the only one on the water.
  • Give anglers plenty of room. Scaring the fish will win you no friends (see #3).
  • Don’t change clothes in public. (A little surprised this is on the ACA’s list of conduct standards—apparently it’s a problem! See #3)
  • Respect the local culture and their conduct standards if you’re paddling in a country different from your own.
  • Give back to the waterways where you paddle. There are various ways to do this:
  • Pack out trash when you find it.
  • Support local environmental groups through donations of time or money.
  • Introduce others to paddling, including these guidelines for conduct.

Paddling Environmental Ethics

Paddling ethics has to do with how we treat the environment on the waterways and the surrounding land where we paddle.

Here are 6 ways to care for the environment when paddling:

  • Always pack out your trash (pick it up, put it in your pack, and take it out with you).
  • If you’re in wilderness areas with no facilities, know the rules for where to conduct toilet activities—and follow them. Some areas may even require you to pack out human waste. Be prepared!
  • Leave wildlife alone. Enjoy watching them, but don’t feed or approach them.
  • Take care of the shoreline when you launch, portage, scout and take out.
  • Don’t build campfires except in designated fire rings or in emergency situations.
  • Check out Leave No Trace for more guidelines.

(This information is based on ACA’s brochure: “Practices, Ethics and Conduct”)

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