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Nick Mavar was born in Dugi Otok, Croatia and immigrated to the United States in 1959. He arrived in California as a foreign student and took courses in mechanical engineering for three years at Long Beach State College, while fishing part time. One summer he went to Washington to earn money commercial fishing, which led to him fishing in Southeast Alaska for a few years, and by the late 1960s he was fishing in Bristol Bay. At first, Nick leased a cannery boat and fished for specific canneries, including Alaska Packers, Whitney-Fildalgo, and Red Salmon, but eventually he built his own boat and became an independent fisherman. In the winter, Nick lived in Anacortes, Washington where he did boat repair and equipment maintenance, some fishing along the Pacific coast, and worked in real estate. During his long career, Nick experienced strikes by fishermen demanding better prices for the fish they sold, changes in the technology used in fishing and processing, and shifts in the fish populations. In addition to being a successful red and king salmon fisherman in Bristol Bay, Nick became a delegate to the Independent Fisherman's Association where he worked to negotiate better prices for the fishermen.