Haliotid (abalone) fisheries are comprised of small-scale (<5 km2) stocks and serve as a model for many such fisheries. Extremely valuable to local fishing communities in aggregate, these micro-stocks are myriad and complex to study, monitor, assess and manage. Micro-stocks need assessment and management at local scales to prevent small components from suffering the tragedy of commons. This paper asks how can we ever hope to address the research and management needs of so many small resources? Community-based and territorial rights-based systems may help in sustaining these resources, but servicing the technical needs of many small communities of stakeholders raises problems. A new generation of ‘barefoot ecologists’ is envisaged to perform this task.