The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication, endorsed by the Committee on Fisheries of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2014, heightened the recognition and protection of small-scale fisheries globally. The guidelines are voluntary and non-binding, but does this mean they have no normative significance or legal force? Based on international legal theories of soft law, this article explores the legal status of the guidelines and argues that the guidelines have normative significance and legal force for three main reasons: (i) the legitimate process of development and adoption of the guidelines; (ii) the normative content of the provisions; and (iii) their law-making effects at various levels of governance. The guidelines contribute to building a global safety net for small-scale fisheries, which should continue to improve and expand thus securing the sector’s sustainability worldwide.