Synopsis of Standards

Much of this website describes who we are, how we were founded and what we stand for.  In order to more fully comprehend the ACSKG, it is useful to also consider what we are not.

This page makes comparisons with other guide organizations and explains how and why the ACSKG chooses to uphold our higher standards.

ACSKG standards encourage guides to consistently and effectively manage risks, while promoting long-term sustainability for outfitters worldwide.
Another BC sea kayak guide organization has developed standards that lean toward short-term outfitter profitability.

Some differences are:

  • Guide to client ratios.
    ACSKG ratios are determined by Coastal Water Classifications (CWC) and the type of kayaks used.  The ACSKG applies one cohesive set of guide requirements and ratios throughout the world.

    Another BC kayak guide organization has developed several different and conflicting sets of ratios, which increase outfitter's short-term profits while reducing each guide's ability to effectively manage risks.

  • An assistant guide is required.
    Overnight tours in open coastal waters (CWC Class II and III) require a certified assistant guide to work with the full guide, regardless of how few clients there are in the group.  The ACSKG believes two guides are required to effectively manage risks on overnight tours in open coastal waters.

    Another BC kayak guide organization permits one unassisted guide to lead overnight tours in open coastal waters, which increases an outfitter's short-term profits while reducing the guide's ability to effectively manage risks.

  • Wilderness first aid certification is required.
    ACSKG guides are required to maintain current certification in approved wilderness first aid.  The ACSKG believes professional wilderness guides must hold up-to-date wilderness first aid certification.

    Another BC kayak guide organization does not require their guides to hold current wilderness first aid certification.

  • In mixed fleets, at least one guide must be in a single kayak.
    This requirement is just one component of the ACSKG's comprehensive operating standards.  It ensures that when a client is in a single kayak, at least one guide is available to assess, demonstrate, instruct and respond from a single kayak.

    Another BC kayak guide organization permits all guides to paddle in double kayaks, even when these guides are responsible for clients paddling single kayaks.

    In Gwaii Haanas, Parks Canada has declared:  "ACSKG standards have become the benchmark against which all other standards are evaluated."

    Since Parks Canada endorsed the ACSKG's operating standards, the other guide organization was required to raise their standards in order to also gain approval in Gwaii Haanas.  However, the other organization raised their standards only in Gwaii Haanas, while everywhere else their standards remain lower.

    Similarly, the other guide organization adjusted their guide-to-client ratios to match the ACSKG's safer ratios, but their ratios were adjusted to become safer only in Gwaii Haanas.

  • Membership is limited to qualified guides.
    Since our inception, the ACSKG has limited our membership and voting privileges to qualified guides; each ACSKG certified full guide is granted one vote.  This means that business owners who do not qualify for a guide certificate are unable to leverage the ACSKG's policies and standards.
    While this does result in fewer ACSKG members, our committed focus allows us to more effectively represent the views and concerns of professionally certified sea kayak guides.

    Another BC "kayak guide" organization allows anyone involved with sea kayaking to become a member.  This magnifies their membership base and funding source, while diluting the focus of their organization.
    The other BC organization actually debated policies during a period when business owners were granted two votes, while certified guides were limited to one vote.  This helps explain why their standards lean toward short-term outfitter profitability, rather than long-term professional risk management.

  • Group size will not exceed ten clients.
    Smaller groups enable ACSKG guides to more effectively manage risks while limiting our impact on the environment and other groups we meet.

    Some other kayak guide organizations permit larger groups, which increases an outfitter's short-term profits, intensifies environmental impacts and reduces each guide's ability to effectively manage risks.

  • Comprehensive guide training.
    The ACSKG's Leadership Course Curriculum provides the backdrop to all ACSKG accredited guide training courses.  Several years of expedition guiding experience are required before an ACSKG full guide can qualify as a guide instructor.  ACSKG instructors are amongst the most highly experienced sea kayak guides and wilderness educators on the planet.
    The ACSKG's primary training emphasis is incident prevention, followed closely by the requirement to comprehensively train for incident response.  Additionally, our instructors are encouraged to share with course participants the preventative lessons that may be learned from this Transportation Safety Board of Canada Marine Investigation Report.

    Some other guide training programs focus predominantly on incident response and may overlook the lessons of history.

The Association of Canadian Sea Kayak Guides is a responsive organization.  We are open to suggestions.
The ACSKG invites feedback that may further raise our standards.

Representatives of another BC kayak guide organization have claimed;  "The ACSKG has higher operating standards, but our training standards are higher."
Any person who wishes to substantiate the later part of this claim is welcome to contact us.
We will respond.

A review of operating standards and guide-to-client ratios confirms that the ACSKG does indeed have higher operating standards and safer ratios than any other professional sea kayak guiding organization in Canada.
To be clear, the ACSKG's higher standards encourage safer trips.

Training standards are more complicated to accurately assess.  We are able to provide extensive, detailed and principled rationale supporting the course curriculum, training emphasis, guide requirements, instructor qualifications and operating standards we uphold.  We remain open to discussion with those who may hold different views.  If we are presented with compelling evidence for change, we will approach our qualified guide members to determine if the ACSKG will reconsider our position.

The Association of Canadian Sea Kayak Guides remains focussed on upholding the highest standards for professional sea kayak guides in Canada.  We understand that if a guide organization becomes willing to prioritize profits over appropriate risk management, the results will unnecessarily risk clients and ultimately produce negative impacts to our tourism sector.

Parks Canada requires licensed guides in Gwaii Haanas to operate using the highest relevant industry standards.  ACSKG certified guides uphold these standards across Canada and throughout the world.

Certification Equivalence

ACSKG Operating Standards

About the ACSKG - Our History

While no standard can guarantee safety, ACSKG standards effectively promote professional risk management and responsibility on commercial sea kayak tours worldwide.

If discrepancies exist between ACSKG printed material and material published on the ACSKG website, the online content will be considered valid.  The most up-to-date content is published at:

June's Photo of the Month

Photo of the Month

Marine Weather Forecast

Marine Weather - Environment Canada

Association Resources
Since 1994