Commonly adopted approaches to managing small-scale fisheries (SSFs) in developing countries do not ensure sustainability. Progress is impeded by a gap between innovative SSF research and slower-moving SSF management. The paper aims to bridge the gap by showing that the three primary bases of SSF management--ecosystem, stakeholdersÃ† rights and resilience--are mutually consistent and complementary. It nominates the ecosystem approach as an appropriate starting point because it is established in national and international law and policy. Within this approach, the emerging resilience perspective and associated concepts of adaptive management and institutional learning can move management beyond traditional control and resource-use optimization, which largely ignore the different expectations of stakeholders; the complexity of ecosystem dynamics; and how ecological, social, political and economic subsystems are linked. Integrating a rights-based perspective helps balance the ecological bias of ecosystem-based and resilience approaches. The paper introduces three management implementation frameworks that can lend structure and order to research and management regardless of the management approach chosen. Finally, it outlines possible research approaches to overcome the heretofore limited capacity of fishery research to integrate across ecological, social and economic dimensions and so better serve the management objective of avoiding fishery failure by nurturing and preserving the ecological, social and institutional attributes that enable it to renew and reorganize itself.