The Matagorda County Navigation District No. 1 was created by the Texas Legislature in 1940 to promote recreational and commercial fishing, maintain a navigable waterway, and protect the coastal environment. One of the most important missions of the Navigation District is to provide a safe harbor for vessels using the boat channel from the Intracoastal Canal to the Port of Palacios. The Navigation District develops and maintains marine facilities to stimulate and retain economic development and jobs in the Port of Palacios.
In 2011, the US Environmental Protection Agency's Gulf of Mexico Program awarded the Matagorda County Navigation District No. 2 and the Texas General Land Office a Gulf Guardian Award in recognition of their outstanding work in oil spill prevention and response. An elected Board of Commissioners establishes policy for administering, developing, operating, and maintain Port of Palacios property. The Port Director then implements the policies.
Over the last five years, port activities have grown to include the fabrication of tugboats and barges. In 2008, Tres Palacios Marine employed more than 40 crafts persons and launched a barge or tugboat each week. The firm also added improvements to the Port of Palacios that included mobile painting building for barges, fabrication and welding platforms, and a barge launch platform. Another new business in the Port of Palacios is the Welded Boat Company that produces recreational vessels with aluminum hulls.
Since 1992, the shrimp-fishing industry began in the Port of Palacios when Ted Bates' Helen B arrived from Alabama. The industry is strong today, and more than six million tons of shrimp were landed at the Port of Palacios in 2007.
The Port of Palacios has two recreational marinas. The South Bay Marina is just blocks from a Port of Palacios' public boat launch and has 41 boat slips, including 24 covered and 17 open slips, with electric lifts. The gated South Bay Marina in the Port of Palacios has a harbor-side fuel depot. Turning Basin #3 in the Port of Palacios harbor has 15 open boat slips with romantic views of the shrimp fleet to the south and pristine wetlands to the west. Located next to Bayside RV Park in the Port of Palacios, Turning Basin #3 is a popular destination for "Winter Texans."
Located at the mouth of the Palacios Boat Channel in Tres Palacios Bay, the Port of Palacios is a center of one of Texas' most productive coastal fisheries. Connecting with the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, the Channel is about 6.4 kilometers (four miles) long. In 2007, the channel was dredged to a width of 38.1 meters (125 feet) and a depth to 3.7 meters (12 feet).
The Port of Palacios covers over 50 hectares and contains four turning basins with 3.7 kilometers (2.3 miles) of dock. Matagorda County Navigation District #1 also has more than 242 near-shoreline hectares available for development.
The Port of Palacios has grown into an important player in the movement of bulk cargo in the United States. While it is considered a shallow port, regular dredging and proximity to agricultural and industrial properties make the Port of Palacios an important facility for moving bulk cargo that includes fertilizer, grain, and gravel and other building materials.
The Matagorda County Navigation District #1 owns and operates the Port of Palacios Harbor Turning Basin No. 4 to receive seafood and moor fishing vessels. This Port of Palacios facility has berthing distance of 853.4 meters (2800 feet) with alongside depth of 2.7 meters (nine feet).
The Navigation District owns, and W. & W. Dock Company operates a wharf that receives seafood and services fishing vessels (including mooring, fueling, icing, and repairing). A pipeline extends from the wharf to four steel storage tanks with total capacity for 1269 US barrels. An ice-making plant at the rear of the wharf produces 55 tons of ice per day and can store about 100 tons. The W&W Dock has berthing distance of 122 meters (400 feet) with alongside depth of 4.3 meters (14 feet).
The Port of Palacios has three shipyards: Tres Palacios Marine, Lagasse Marine, and The Welded Boat Company. They repair, refit, fabricate, and provide dry dock services.
The Port of Palacios Shipyard slip is owned by Matagorda County Navigation District #1 and operated by the Palacios Shipyard to haul out vessels for maintenance and repair. The open area at the rear of the slip can accommodate ten vessels. This Port of Palacios slip has alongside depth of 3.7 meters (14 feet).
The LaGasse Marine Ways Wharf in the Port of Palacios is owned by the Matagorda County Navigation District #1. LaGasse operates the wharf to moor vessels for repair and to await haul-out. The slips are served by one 125- and one 250-ton marine railways. The LaGasse Marine Ways Wharf has berthing distance of 48.8 meters (160 feet) with alongside depth of 3.7 meters (nine feet).