Ocean ecosystems are at the forefront of the climate and biodiversity crises, yet we lack a unified approach to assess their state and inform sustainable policies. This blueprint is designed around research capabilities and cross-sectoral partnerships. We highlight priorities including integrating basin-scale observation, modelling and genomic approaches to understand Atlantic oceanography and ecosystem connectivity; improving ecosystem mapping; identifying potential tipping points in deep and open ocean ecosystems; understanding compound impacts of multiple stressors including warming, acidification and deoxygenation; enhancing spatial and temporal management and protection. We argue that these goals are best achieved through partnerships with policy-makers and community stakeholders, and promoting research groups from the South Atlantic through investment and engagement. Given the high costs of such research (€800k to €1.7M per expedition and €30–40M for a basin-scale programme), international cooperation and funding are integral to supporting science-led policies to conserve ocean ecosystems that transcend jurisdictional borders.