In this review we discuss the economic implications of spatial-dynamic processes operating at various scales in coupled human and natural systems where the coupling is through the harvest of a renewable resource. Before introducing the spatial aspects, we first summarize in Section 2 the economic conclusions of the seminal non-spatial bioeconomic research. In Section 3, we elaborate on some of the new findings about spatial patterns and processes in marine ecosystems with metapopulation models. These generalizations of the basic lumped parameter models include both larval and adult dispersal processes, and offer a parsimonious modeling approach for depicting spatially linked resources. Section 4 explores the bioeconomic implications of this new metapopulation paradigm under polar extreme institutional assumptions of open access and sole owner optimal use. We discuss in Section 5 the special issue of marine nature reserves or no-take zones. Section 6 discusses the institutional implications of the new spatial paradigm and the connections with similar investigations in other policy arenas.