Complex social–ecological systems such as small-scale fisheries require the inclusion of human dimensions in fisheries management and planning for simultaneously preserving human health and habitat health. However, linkages between ecological, social, political and economic subsystems have been largely ignored in conventional fisheries management, in Nigeria in particular. Hence, the weak governance in the fisheries sub-sector in general is marred by intra-sectoral and inter-sectoral conflicts. The Nigerian fishery is predominantly small-scale in nature yet this sub-sector is contributing about 70 percent to the total national domestic fish production. Despite the significant social, economic and cultural impacts, the small-scale fisheries currently lacks enabling conditions and receives the least priority considerations in the developmental process. This paper presents a contextual analysis of historical developments and the current status of small-scale fisheries in Nigeria. In this paper, several analytical approaches were adopted. The research design used an inductive-qualitative approach, based on papers retained for relevance to development themes and cross-cutting issues in small-scale fisheries from an extensive literature search after a scanning and selection process using a four - point criteria. From this analysis, an assessment was made against the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (VG-SSF) in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication and a framework conceptualized and discussed, based on collective action to improve the organization level and capacity building of fishers, data on capture fish production, integrating ecosystem–based management in addition to gender integration into fisheries policies and decision-making processes for improved fisheries performance and sustainability.