Austan IV is a world that is still developing in many respects, despite being the Austan system's only temperate, terrestrial planet. The planet's surface is dominated by deep oceans interspersed with small, low-lying islands that, for the most part, only reach fifty meters above sea level at their highest point. The only real elevation comes at its southern pole, where accumulated ice mounds atop a larger continent. Historically, the Arkanis Sector was never a destination for aquatic species. This left the residents of planets like Austan IV without the expertise needed to settle beyond the limited land areas. Even with recent waves of immigration and bold infrastructure projects to connect islands and take advantage of the naturally habitable zones, the planet is still second to its frigid sister world, Austan III, for the system's lowest population level.
Since its settlement, fishing has been the bedrock of Austan IV's economy and way of life. The planet's largest ocean current circles the world's north-central grassy continent, warming as it skirts the equator and cooling as it approaches the polar zones. The current is rich with microorganisms, which in turn support rich ecosystems of marine life of all sizes. With most of the habitable land lying on this current, fishing and harvesting that marine life is possible year-round. While some of its species have become offworld delicacies, the majority of the fishing industry serves the local population.
As the populations of Austan's gas giants continue to balloon, Austan IV has attracted the attention of developers who wish to capitalize on the world's rather unspoiled beauty as a resort world. Their interests are often at odds with those of the local population, who wish for their home to remain more closed-off and retain its maritime, hard-scrabble culture. Both parties, however, may find their dreams challenged by rising sea levels, which threaten to submerge much of the planet's already rare habitable land in the coming centuries.