Federal fishing regulators say potential changes to the rules that govern scallop fishing off of New England could be a priority in the coming years.

The rules are a source of tension as fishing boats move into the waters off the northern Massachusetts coast to seek scallops.

The New England Fishery Management Council passed a motion on Wednesday that says changes to management of the northern Gulf of Maine fishing area will be a potential priority in 2017.

The council hopes to have new measures in place by 2018.

Some of the concern stems from the fact that not all of the scallop fishermen in the area are restricted by a quota system. The value of scallops, and their price to consumers, has also been climbing in recent years.