New Bern canal gets Trash-Trout-ed

Environmental, Sound Rivers, Volunteers

Posted on June 2nd, 2022

(Left to right) Mike Sagaser, Christina Marshen, Carl Crozier, Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Jill Howell, Program Director Clay Barber, Neuse Riverkeeper Sam Krop, water-quality intern Maia Schweikert and Roger Montgomery (not pictured) installed a Trash Trout on Duffyfield Canal on Tuesday in New Bern.

Sound Rivers’ staff and volunteers installed the second of three litter traps on Duffyfield Canal, at Beaufort Street, in New Bern this week.

The Trash Trout is designed to rise and fall with water levels and collect trash flowing downstream, keeping it, in this case, from entering Jack Smith Creek, a tributary of the Neuse River.

Part of a statewide microplastics study, each Trash Trout will be monitored closely, then emptied when it fills up. The trash collected is then “audited” to determine what types of trash end up in local waterways and how they break down over time. Paired with water sampling of the same waterways and testing for the presence of microplastics (tiny pieces of plastic less than 5 mm long), the study aims to provide the big picture of how plastic impacts the environment and the life relying on it.

Volunteer Roger Montgomery assists Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Jill Howell with securing an anchor for the Trash Trout.

Partnering with University of North Carolina-Wilmington’s Plastic Ocean Project and Duke Law and Policy Clinic, Waterkeepers Carolina, a coalition of North Carolina’s 14 Riverkeepers, launched the study last year, with microplastics pollution sampling in 30 urban and rural waterways.

Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Jill Howell, Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop and Sound Rivers’ Program Director Clay Barber headed up Tuesday’s the installation in New Bern with assistance from Upper Neuse water-quality intern Maia Schweikert and volunteers Carl Crozier, Christina Marshen, Mike Sagaser and Roger Montgomery. In addition to installing the Duffyfield Canal Trash Trout, an impromptu clean-up was held, ridding the narrow canal of trash that had collected on the banks and in the water. A flat-screened TV, almost completely immersed in the shallow water, was an interesting find.

Neuse Riverkeeper Sam Krop discusses the installation with volunteer Roger Montgomery.

Sound Rivers is on the lookout for volunteers to help monitor the Trash Trouts: those who can regularly check the Trout to see if it’s in need of a clean-out; those willing to wade into the water to pull trash out of the traps; and people to sort the resulting trash. For more information about how to volunteer, email

The completed Trash Trout installation.

Litter located downstream of the Trash Trout is an example of the trash that will be caught in the trap.

Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Jill Howell and water-quality intern Maia Schweikert anchor the Trash Trout to the bank.

An impromptu clean-up yielded a garbage bag full of trash and a flat-screen TV.

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