Ireland's Office of the Ombudsman is extending its inquiry into the government's handling of the E.U. sea lice investigation.

The ombudsman has been investigating allegations by the environmental group Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) that the Department of Agriculture deliberately suppressed a report from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) that described problems with sea lice in bays along the Irish west coast.

According to FIE, the E.U. specifically requested that report as part of an investigation into sea lice problems, and now the Irish ombudsman is investigating whether the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs may have helped cover the IFI report up.

FIE alleges the department did not include IFI in responding to the E.U.'s inquiries, making the agriculture department the key contact for the E.U.

'The Department of Agriculture is both the licensing authority and the promoter of the ambitious plan to build 9 mega-salmon farms in bays along the Irish west coast," said Tony Lowes, FIE's director. "IFI, on the other hand, has long established concerns over the loss of wild salmon due to salmon farms infested with sea lice. Assigning control of the response to the Department of Agriculture was like putting the fox in charge of the chicken house."

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